The Mahdi Army, led by the radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, put a different spin on the talks [between British Forces and the Militia]. “It was the British who came to us in the first place to strike a deal,” a senior official said.
“They wanted us to stop attacking their compounds and troops. It was not the Mahdi Army that went to them. It was obvious to us that they had suffered enough attacks and could not deal with more.”
Either the decision to let the British step away is a ruse to get the British to let down their guard ready for a "kicking out" ceremony, a realisation that the real enemies are al-Qaeda and other factions requiring a husbanding of resources or that they know they will get a pasting if they try an all-out attack.
To think that the Mahdi Army are letting the British go just as an act of rational and peaceful negotiation? I leave that to the useful idiots, self-loathers etc. found in their co-religionists, Guardianistas and others willing to believe irrational lies. If the British were on the back foot truly and the Mahdi Army were in any fit state to exploit that advantage, they would. Such exploitation could be as a means to grab the "rational alternative" high ground by being civilized in the withdrawal of British troops to reinforce his claim to being the legitimate authority in the region, usurping the Iraqi government. That might be good if it were not for the fact that the Mahdi Army has some very strict "religious police" elements within it, so bye-bye freedom. As I say, al-Sadr or his puppeteer is no dummy.
I do think a "kicking out" ceremony is planned and this is also a useful way to overtly display force and power. The calm before the storm could be seen as a lull.