Who's The Boss In Iraq?

Jubilant Iraqis carry poster of radical anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr after US troops dismantled checkpoints around Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City Tuesday Oct. 31 2006. Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday ordered the lifting of joint U.S.-Iraqi military checkpoints around the Shiite militant stronghold of Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad.
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
If you were wondering before, perhaps it's clearer now who's really in charge in Iraq. Prime Minister Al Maliki yesterday called on U.S. forces to remove their barricades and checkpoints around the Shiite slum of Sadr City. By suppertime they were gone.

Sadr City is controlled by the cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, who is a sponsor of militias and death squads that rule the streets of Baghdad. What Sadr wants, he usually gets. Sadr is also a patron of the prime minister. So Muqtada Al Sadr not only controls the streets, it would seem he also controls his country's government.

Sadr City effectively was cut off from the rest of Baghdad when that Iraqi-born U.S. soldier went missing there last week. Locals have had to wait in long lines to get in and out of their neighborhoods. Food prices have shot up, and Sadr's people called a strike to protest.

Al-Maliki got the message. Now we should, too.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith