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Iraq | International

As-Sadr, Back Again
by Raed In The Middle (reposted)
Saturday May 7th, 2005 1:20 PM
Updates from Raed Jarrar's blog

Five supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr were wounded Friday in a demonstration following the reading of a fiery sermon written by their leader, hospital sources said.

"If you leave us in peace, we will leave you in peace. You should be aware of the fact that the Mehdi Army is still alive and has its finger on the trigger," Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji said, reading a sermon by Sadr in the Kufa mosque in central Iraq.

"The government we have been expecting for so long should take concrete action in favour of the prisoners from the Mehdi Army and the followers of the Sadr movement. If you don't free our prisoners, I am ready to die as a martyr," he added

As-Sadr has millions of supporters in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. Last year I estimated that there are around five million of them. As-Sadr and his supporters took and are still taking a very strong anti-occupation stand.

When the occupation forces freaked out last year and had a deal with As-Sadr, it was after they discovered how strong he is. That deal was, as usual, a mere postponement of a big problem.

Yet, it seems that As-Sadr and his army didn't wait long before starting clashes with the weak Iraqi government.

I wonder whether these events will stay small, or if they will set off major clashes between Al-Mahdi Army on the one hand and the Iraqi government and occupation forces on the on the other hand.