Just passing on the news, but I think this story needs to get some more attention given the recent desire some candidates and public officials have shown to "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran"...
It was reported on Sunday that Iranian officials had helped broker a ceasefire agreement in the recent fighting between Iraq's government and radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Iran has close ties to both al-Sadr's movement and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and representatives of two of the parties in Maliki's coalition traveled to Iran to finalize the talks.
CNN's Nic Robertson reported from Baghdad on Monday that the ceasefire appears to be holding and stores in Basra are reopening. Robertson also explained that the recent violence represented conflict among Shi'ite factions, which was why the Iranians were able to act as brokers.
"There's a broad alliance of Shia parties here in Iraq that have been sort of struggling and struggling to hold themselves together over the recent months," Robertson stated. "That alliance essentially broke down with this recent fighting, and it appears that Iran has wanted the Shias to remain united here, that they don't want massive violence right on their own doorstep."
It's obvious that this is a smart political move by Iran - after all, taking a role in a peace process can't help but elevate their status in the region and the international community. It also makes it a hell of a lot harder for the US to claim legitimacy in starting an Iranian invasion before the election... that is, if the story gets enough play with the American public.
That being said, it's will most likely serve to strengthen Iran's influence within the country, as they will be seen as the peace brokers, and the US-backed government as the losing aggressors. But the biggest message is this - Iran doesn't want civil war in Iraq any more than we do, and they are actively working against the US narrative to define them as aggressors in this conflict.
Minor update - here's the direct link to the CNN story