Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Clarification by Moqtada al-Sadr

The U.S. government spin has been that Mookie's recent quiescence indicated that he -- at least implicitly -- was supporting the "surge."

I guess this may have been a fanciful interpretation of the evidence.

Firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called upon followers inside his stronghold of Sadr City to resist U.S. forces who are trying to stabilize the capital. Officials in his organization said the cleric was advocating a peaceful uprising.

"Raise your voices, all of you loving your brothers and united against your enemy saying as your leader taught you, 'No America, no Israel, no, no Satan,' by standing and demonstrating that way," Sadr said in a message distributed at the Kufa mosque in southern Iraq. ...

On Friday, thousands of Sadr's followers demonstrated in several parts of Iraq, including Sadr City, to protest the U.S. role. They denounced the neighborhood security outposts and garrisons being set up under the plan and demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Sadr's statement came one day after gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the mayor of Sadr City, Rahim al-Darraji, leaving him seriously wounded and killing at least two of his bodyguards. Darraji, a Sadr appointee, took part in negotiations with U.S. officials to allow American troops to conduct security sweeps and build a garrison in Sadr City.

It was unclear whether Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia has often attacked U.S. and Iraqi forces, was issuing a call to arms. ...

As U.S. troops have carried out raids in Sadr City as part of the security plan, the Mahdi Army has lain low. Friday's statement appeared to address recent public comments by U.S. military officials suggesting that the militia's low profile represented tacit cooperation with the security plan.

"And here you are standing up for the support of your beloved city; this city which the occupier wanted to harm, and tarnish its reputation by spreading false propaganda and rumors and claiming that there are negotiation and collaboration between you and them," the statement continued. "But I am sure that you consider them as your enemies."


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