WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Despite Iraqi military success against the Medhi Army, political wrangling may escalate to renewed violence should Sadrists feel eschewed, a noted scholar says.
Iraq faces security risks from lingering al-Qaida fighters, sectarian or ethnic tensions and the Medhi Army of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, Anthony Cordesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies says in a report released Tuesday.
Though the threats posed by each risk are relatively lower, should Sadr feel unwelcome in the Iraqi political process, he may force his way in through his Mehdi Army, or Jaish al-Mahdi, Cordesman says.
Iraqi security forces have largely quieted the group through operations in Basra, Sadr City and Amarah through military pressure, as well as through Iranian-brokered cease-fire agreements.
"The JAM has not been defeated, however, and Moqtada Sadr has continued to explore ways to restructure the JAM and expand his political options," says Cordesman.
Cordesman warns that though the Iraqi government has proven capable of dealing with internal threats, many of the elements presented by Sadrist forces have dispersed in order to bide their time.
"If Sadr is excluded from Iraq's political process, feels the process is unfair, or chooses to mix politics with violence, the JAM could again become a major threat," he concludes.