In Baghdad Slum, GIs, Sadr Adapt to Peace

Two Iraqi boys stand in the street near to a patrol of U.S. Humvees in Sadr City.

Two Iraqi boys stand in the street near to a patrol of U.S. Humvees in Sadr City. Ben Gilbert, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ben Gilbert, NPR
An Iraqi family pleads with American soldiers to improve electric and other services in Sadr City.

An Iraqi family pleads with American soldiers to improve electric and other services in Sadr City. Ben Gilbert, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ben Gilbert, NPR
Children run up to a mortar round on the side of a highway. i

Children run up to a mortar round on the side of a highway as Americans searching for roadside bombs move in to inspect it. The shell turned out to be a dud. Eric Westervelt, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Westervelt, NPR
Children run up to a mortar round on the side of a highway.

Children run up to a mortar round on the side of a highway as Americans searching for roadside bombs move in to inspect it. The shell turned out to be a dud.

Eric Westervelt, NPR

A tenuous peace holds in Sadr City between U.S. forces and followers of militant anti-American cleric Moktada Sadr. Mehdi militiamen who were shooting at U.S. soldiers last summer are now helping man Iraqi police checkpoints and assisting in reconstruction.

Sadr has re-emerged after a period of quiet following two failed uprisings against U.S. forces. The Shiite firebrand is still calling for a quick withdrawal of the American military and the release of followers detained by U.S. and Iraqi troops. But Sadr is also working to re-invent his movement as a populist political force.

Complicating any dialogue is continued skepticism that Sadr has full control over the volatile foot soldiers in his movement. As one American soldier said of the tense peace in Sadr City, "I could get back in the tank. But I don't like tanks. I'd just as soon drive around here in the Humvee and hand out chickens."

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