Whalid Phares explains with clarity who Muqtada al-Sadr is, and how he has gained the power that he currently wields (with Iran’s help and by assassinating his opponents). Very clear article. John F. Burns recounts the latest developments in today’s New York Times. The Iraqi government is giving him a new ultimatum that is going to go into effect "within hours." It is demanding that Sadr speak in his own name, rather than send memos or subalterns. No one trusts him. Also note that U.S. Marines have taken over Sadr City, part of Baghdad. I believe this is an important development; Sadr City had to be secured before the Iraqis decided to act against Sadr in Najaf. This is the first time we have occupied the whole area, and the first time Sadr’s army has had to fight us throughout Sadr City (and we have killed at least fifty). It is probable that Iraqi forces will do the rest of the fighting at the Mosque in Najaf (although we did all the preparations), while the Americans will do what has to be done in Sadr City, should there be another uprising there. This has to be ended, it has to be done and well done. This could make or break the Iraqi government and, therefore, our policy.
You might want to glance at the New York Times article from yesterday and note the paragraph about the 62 bad guys killed by Marine snipers. Note that this indicates the intensity (and precision) of the combat, and that so many are killed by so few. This "skill imbalance" (as Phil Carter puts it) is critical in urban combat, and that’s why we are winning such engagements. We have excellent warriors.