Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met members of the radical Shiite group believed to have kidnapped five Britons in Iraq two years ago after it said it had renounced violence, a government spokesman said on Monday.
The meeting came just days after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said two of the five were "very likely" to be dead, bringing to four the number of hostages killed by the League of the Righteous.
"The government welcomes the statement by the League of the Righteous that it renounces violence and supports the political process and efforts to achieve national unity," Ali al-Dabbagh said on state Al-Iraqiya television on Sunday.
How did this happen?
One, or a combination of the following:
- The League of the Righteous may have been instructed by Tehran to moderate their behavior and join the political process. This move could improve the standings of the fractured Sadrist movement and Shiite Islamic parties in general among their constituency. The goal may be to rebuild the UIA and balance Maliki's emerging nationalist coalition.
- The release of detained League's leaders and affiliated Iranian agents has paid off.
- The League is faking this to have more of their detained members released and buy some time to regroup and reorganize.
- Maliki is trying to get the Sadrists on his side to prepare for general elections.
- Maliki wants to show that he is the arbiter of national reconciliation, not the Americans who were talking to Sunni insurgents without his government's knowledge. If this is the case, he may have paid a high price to bring the League to the table on such a short notice.