BAGHDAD (AP) - Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Friday that he has extended a cease-fire order to his Shiite Mahdi Army by another six months, giving Iraq a chance to continue its fragile recovery from brutal sectarian violence.
His message was delivered by Shiite clerics during prayer services in mosques dominated by followers of the black-turbaned cleric.
``According to an order by Sayyid Muqtada, activities of the Mahdi Army will be suspended ... for another six month period,'' al-Sadr's aide Hazim al-Aaraji said, using an honorific for al-Sadr during his sermon at the Kazimiyah mosque in Baghdad.
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This is good news. Of course Mookie is keeping his options open and could at any time resume his attacks, but now for several months he has seen political participation in the new government as a more productive position than military opposition, and every month that the peace holds grants that government more legitimacy in the eyes of all Iraqis. The peace extension is thus one more indication that the democratic Iraqi regime has indeed turned a significant corner in its journey toward general reconciliation.