NAJAF UPDATE….The Guardian reports that negotiations with Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf are making progress:

Mr Sadr has relinquished his demands for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraqi cities and the release of captured Shia insurgents, according to a close aide.

….[One of Muqtada’s representatives, Abdelkarim al-Anzi] said he could not disclose the details of Mr Sadr’s latest proposal, but added that the cleric “realises that an armed confrontation is not in anybody’s interest”.

The development came as an official Iranian delegation arrived in Baghdad to mediate between US officials and Mr Sadr, who is wanted by coalition authorities in connection with the murder of a rival Shia cleric last year.

I confess I’m having a hard time following this. I thought we were refusing to negotiate with Muqtada? And if we are negotiating with him, why are we willing to rely on Iranians as intermediaries?

Juan Cole has more. He suggests that Paul Bremer and the generals disagree on how to handle the situation. Stay tuned.

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