Entries in Muqtada al-Sadr (2)


Iraqi Shiite Cleric Tells Militia to Stop Attacking US Forces

QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- One of the U.S. military's enemies in Iraq is striking a semi-conciliatory tone ahead of the planned American withdrawal from the country.

Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is telling members of his Iranian-backed Mahdi militia to end their attacks on U.S. soldiers that have suddenly increased in recent months.  His rationale seems to be more about wanting to give the Americans fewer excuses to stick around Iraq past the December deadline than actually trying to side with his longtime foe.

The U.S. is still scheduled to remove nearly all of its remaining 47,000 forces from Iraq by the deadline but is in talks with Baghdad to leave an undetermined number behind in January to train their security forces in the use of heavy weaponry.

Al-Sadr's militia fought against coalition troops through 2007 when he called for a ceasefire to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.  However, radical Shiites have stepped up their attacks lately, prompting the cleric to issue his missive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Firebrand Cleric Makes New Threat Against US Troops' Stay

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- A celebratory mood in Iraq turned ugly Saturday during the eighth anniversary to commemorate Saddam Hussein being driven from power in Baghdad.

Over in the capital's Sadr City, thousands gathered to hear a message read from firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in which he warned the U.S. that its soldiers and civilians won't be welcome in Iraq after the end of 2011, when all troops are due to leave the country.  To emphasize that point, protesters burned American flags as well an effigies of Americans in business suits.

Al-Sadr is currently in Iran, where he's closely allied with Tehran's theocratic regime.  During the height of the Iraq war, his Mahdi Army militia fought against U.S. forces but he agreed to disband the group so that the coalition and Iraq's army could defeat the insurgency led by al-Qaeda.

Now, the cleric, who has become a major political figure in Iraq, is threatening to reorganize his milita if the U.S. extends its military stay in Iraq after the December 2011 deadline to withdraw.

Several officials with his movement also oppose any expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which is already the largest diplomatic mission in the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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