Al-Sadr's cease-fire has been a huge key to the decline in violence in Iraq and this would be a major blow:
Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr may let a six-month cease-fire expire as soon as Saturday, a move that could send his Shiite militia fighters back to the streets and jeopardize security gains that have led to a sharp decline in violence..
Al-Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army is among the most powerful militias in Iraq, and the cease-fire he ordered last August has been credited with helping reduce violence around Iraq by 60 percent or more in the past six months.
Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said that if the cleric failed to issue a statement by Saturday saying the cease-fire was extended, "then that means the freeze is over." Al-Sadr's followers would be free to resume attacks.
On an Internet site representing al-Sadr, al-Obeidi said that al-Sadr "either will announce the extension or will stay silent and not announce anything. If stays silent, that means that the freeze is over."
Al-Obeidi said that message "has been conveyed to all Mahdi Army members nationwide."...read on