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Major General Nouri Al-Maliki

Maliki orders the military cordon around Sadr City to be lifted, thereby effectively ending the search for the missing U.S. soldier:

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Maliki ordered that the security cordon be lifted hours after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a civil disobedience campaign in Sadr City to protest the blockade, which the U.S. military launched Wednesday in an effort to find an abducted U.S. soldier and capture a purported Iraqi death squad leader.

It was the Maliki government's greatest demonstration of independence from the occupying U.S. military forces, following two weeks of increasingly pointed exchanges between Iraqi and U.S. officials. But it was also a reminder of the degree to which Maliki must cooperate with Sadr, who leads the political party that comprises one of the biggest blocs in the governing alliance and who effectively runs the Shiite Muslim stronghold named for his deceased father.

Armed fighters of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia had enforced boycotts as part of the civil disobedience campaign, entering schools to force out children and forcing workers and customers to abandon shops and offices, including government electrical facilities, witnesses and residents said. The checkpoints and barricades had effectively isolated Sadr City from the rest of the capital, making it difficult if not impossible for the slum's 2.5 million residents to travel to schools and jobs elsewhere in Baghdad.

Precisely at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), the deadline set by Maliki, U.S. armored personnel carriers pulled away from the roadblocks. Young men in pickup trucks drove through the streets waving banners of the Mahdi Army, and drivers of other vehicles honked their horns in celebration.

I'm sure the soldiers and the American back home will be thrilled that we are taking orders from an Al-Sadr appeaser who doesn't want to see one of our own released.

Or maybe we'll see what happens in the next episode of "Lost".

(via Atrios and Josh Marshall)

Update: Oops nevermind. John Kerry apparently said sumpthin' about U.S. troops. This is obviously WAAAY more important.