BASRA, Iraq, June 11 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged from March's conflict in Basra as a hero, gaining a stronger political position, USA Today said.
Maliki's stand against the forces of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr in the Basra clashes, in the face of imminent defeat, have endeared him to many Iraqis who now see him as a strong leader and triggered a political shift in his favor, the newspaper said Wednesday in a report from Basra.
"This is the beginning of a political shift," Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, a former Maliki doubter, told USA Today. "Al-Maliki is in a very strong position now. Because he went after … Shiite militias, Sunnis no longer see al-Maliki as sectarian and are to a degree satisfied with him now."
Meanwhile, Ibrahim Sumydai, a Sunni political analyst and former Iraqi intelligence officer, was quoted as saying, "He has become a hero within his party and much of the Iraqi population."
However, some analysts say the clashes in Basra proved inconclusive, contending Maliki failed to make Sadr's Mahdi Army give up its weapons and was forced to appeal to Iran to intervene diplomatically to end the fighting.