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Sadr Aide Says Iraqi PM "Acting Like Saddam"
BAGHDAD, Aug 8 (AFP) - A Baghdad-based aide to Moqtada Sadr accused Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Sunday of acting like former dictator Saddam Hussein and wanting to eliminate the radical Shiite Muslim cleric and his movement.
"Iyad Allawi was acting like Saddam the dictator when he went to Najaf today," Sheikh Abdul Hadi al-Darraji told AFP by telephone from his base in the cleric`s northeast Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.
"He praised the governor there for orchestrating the first episode of Najaf`s destruction and gave the green light for the next operation."
Allawi made a surprise visit to Najaf Sunday accompanied by the interior and defense ministers and Muwafaq al-Rubaie, the national security advisor.
He met with Najaf governor Adnan al-Zorfi and tribal leaders, saying his government was determined to rid Najaf of the influence of the militia, calling them outlaws and criminals.
Allawi had said on Saturday that most militiamen fighting in Najaf had no connection to Sadr and invited the cleric to join next year`s elections.
Darraji said this was "pure trickery" on the part of Allawi.
"Allawi has shown his true colours. He is determined to eliminate Sayed Moqtada and the movement he represents," said Darraji, using a religious honorific.
He said Sadr is currently inside Najaf and that his supporters throughout Iraq were determined to defend him.
Another Sadr aide in Baghdad`s mostly Shiite Kadhimiya district echoed a the sentiment.
"Those fighting now in Najaf and elsewhere have abandoned their families and lives to defend a leader whom they believe truly represents them," said Sheikh Raed al-Khademi.
Fierce clashes broke out in Najaf on Thursday between Sadr`s loyalists and US and Iraqi forces and the violence has spread to Sadr City and some central and southern Shiite cities.