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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 05:55 PM
Original message
Shia tell al-Sadr to leave Najaf
May 6, 2004, 6:31 PM EDT

Leaders of Iraq's largest Shia Muslim tribes have offered renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr a face-saving deal -- and an ultimatum -- to leave the holy city of Najaf.

The arrangement would give al-Sadr a chance to avoid humiliation by surrendering to the tribal leaders instead of being arrested by U.S. troops. But it would still require him to stand trial in an Iraqi court in the assassination of a rival cleric last year. It would also require al-Sadr to disarm his militia, the Mahdi Army, which has been fighting with U.S. forces for more than a month.

The deal has the blessings of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, according to several people involved in drafting it, and while U.S. officials have not yet been presented with the full details, they appear willing to accept it. The tribal leaders told al-Sadr yesterday that he had until only May 15 to accept the offer. If he turns it down, he will lose the tribes' backing. That would effectively give the U.S. military a green light to arrest or kill al-Sadr and crush his militia by launching an attack on Najaf.

"This is an attempt to solve the legal question, and not just the security question," said Sheik Fatih Kashif al-Ghitta, a member of a prominent Najaf religious family and one of the deal's architects. "And to solve it in a way that doesn't humiliate Muqtada, that doesn't humiliate the Iraqi people and that doesn't humiliate the Americans."

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gottaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. Juan Cole covers the negotiations as well
Edited on Thu May-06-04 06:15 PM by gottaB

He reports:

Az-Zaman says that the Grand Ayatollahs in Najaf called on Muqtada to tell his people to lay down their arms. This is the most direct intervention of Sistani and his colleagues in the crisis yet. (Muqtada's militiamen paid no heed to the call). It is not clear to me whether it is referring to the document signed by 150 notables, at a conference arranged by Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, to which Sistani representatives were sent; or whether this is actually a fatwa.


Adding link to Christian Science Monitor coverage:

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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. doesn't look like it's having any effect
the US is already there and waiting to make their move. :(
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gottaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 12:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. perhaps,1280,-406...

"The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. officials have stepped back from their previous demands of capturing or killing al-Sadr. Now, the Americans will accept his surrender for trial and the disarming of his al-Mahdi Army, which can be converted into a political or social organization."

True, there was bloodshed and destruction today, but if this anonymous source is speaking truthfully, then the agreement is probably in effect. That looks like a path of least resistence to me.

BTW, I found that article by searching for the word "Seyed." A significant change in tone by Bremer.
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The_Casual_Observer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 01:05 AM
Response to Original message
4. All of this is meaningless
If Sadr disappears, there will be another one just like him. Do any of them really believe that there can ever be peace and security in Iraq without a Saddam kind of guy in charge?
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 03:24 AM
Response to Original message
5. Is this Sistani's move to bolster his own support?
Is he trying to checkmate al Sadr to ensure his own rise to power?

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ConcernedCanuk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 03:37 AM
Response to Original message
6. They won't disarm, Saddam did, and we saw what happened

al-Sadr MAY have considered going the way of the wishes of the other Clerics


But the US has all the power, and al-Sadr knows it, so does his militia.

They will not trust anything the US says (nor should they) and the likelihood of the US interfering in the handling of al-Sadr and his militia if he surrendered is practically guaranteed.

They will all die before they give in to the US, and that is what they would effectively be doing if they gave themselves up to the clerics or the "Iraqi" police.

And as another DUer suggested, when/if al-Sadr is "removed" there are thousands of others to take his place, most likely with less restraint.

There are 100's of thousands of displaced militia somewhere, and 10's of thousands of previously "passive" Iraqis that have lost their families and friends at the hands of the US.

The US killed over half a million in the first Gulf War,

And another million or so due to sanctions and disease from the Depleted Uranium they bombarded Iraq with.

"Only" around 20,000 killed so far this round

The US is just getting started

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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 04:31 AM
Response to Original message
7. Cleric Sadr Arrives at Iraq Mosque to Lead Prayers -update
KUFA, Iraq (Reuters) - Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr arrived on foot to lead Friday prayers in Kufa, near the holy city of Najaf, defying U.S. troops massed nearby who have vowed to arrest him.

The cleric, who arrived through backstreets, was followed by around five to six hundred militiamen and supporters who chanted his name and bore aloft posters of the Shi'ite cleric and banners of his militia, known as the Mehdi Army.


U.S. forces were not visible anywhere near the mosque, apparently playing a cautious game. U.S. commanders have said repeatedly they will not engage in fighting near religious sites, particularly Najaf's Imam Ali shrine.

Sadr's bold move came less than 24 hours after U.S. forces tightened their grip around Najaf, retaking the governor's house on the edge of town from militiamen as they pursue a pledge to destroy the Mehdi Army and capture Sadr.

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
8. This reminds me of all the "negotiating" with "leaders" in Faloojah
Edited on Fri May-07-04 10:10 AM by bemildred
and the "cease fires" during the weeks of fighting there. It
sounds like the same game is being played against al Sadr now.
I would like to know what al Sistani has to say, this is not
consistent with statements he has made in the not too distant
past, and I would think it a risky stance for him. It does seem
clear the the Iranian Shiite poobahs are not fond of al Sadr and
vice versa. But there are a lot of ways to interpret the situation
and little to discriminate among the interpretations.
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