Iraq's government is claiming some hopeful news after a week of fighting. Iraqi troops have battled Shiite Muslim militias in two big cities, Baghdad and Basra, but now a militia leader has ordered a cease-fire. Muqtada al-Sadr told his forces to get off the streets.
That declaration sounds unimpressive to Kassim Daood, a secular Shiite member of Iraq's parliament. He says al-Sadr's followers won't necessarily heed the cleric's orders, and mortar rockets in the Green Zone on Monday show that the fighting continues.
He says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's offensive last week against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army surprised everybody. "Even the Iraqi parliament didn't get any notice about the operation."
He said the prime minister has failed to fill vacancies in his government and hasn't engaged in negotiations with different political blocs. "There are many signals showing that this government cannot deliver," he says.
Regarding the United States' plan to withdraw troops over the next several months, Daood says last week's "instability and loss of order ... is a very remarkable indication that we need the [U.S.] forces to be in Iraq — at least within this number — until we build our security forces," Daood says.