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Al-Sadr ends parliamentary boycott
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Sunday Jan 21st, 2007 10:27 AM
The political movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia leader, has said it will end a two-month boycott of parliament, signalling an easing of tensions with its Shia allies in the US-backed government.
The Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to al-Sadr, has been identified by Washington as the biggest threat to security in Iraq.

Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister, has been under pressure to take action against it.

His dependence on al-Sadr's political movement has made that difficult.

'New beginning'

Al-Sadr's group announced a boycott at the end of last year to press for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and to protest against a meeting between al-Maliki and George Bush, the US president.

The al-Sadr movement held a joint news conference on Sunday with members of the Shia Alliance, to which the group belongs, to announce their return to parliament.

Bahaa al-Araji, a senior member of the al-Sadr group, said: "Since there has been a response to our demands, we declare that we will attend parliament today."

Mahmoud al-Mashadani, a parliamentary speaker, said that all the parliamentary parties would form a committee to discuss the reasons for the boycott in an attempt to resolve the issues.

"This is a new beginning," he said. "We want to say to the world that an Iraqi solution for Iraqi problems is the key, and others must support these solutions."
by reposted
Sunday Jan 21st, 2007 10:38 AM
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The political movement of Iraqi cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr said it would end a two-month boycott of parliament on Sunday, smoothing over a rift with its Shi'ite allies in the U.S.-backed government.

The political reconciliation with a group viewed with suspicion in Washington came after U.S. forces suffered their third deadliest day in
Iraq since the start of war in 2003. Twenty-five U.S. soldiers were killed on Saturday in clashes with gunmen, a helicopter crash and other violence.

The bloody toll came three days before
President George W. Bush is expected to use his State of the Union address to Congress to argue again for his plan to send thousands more troops to Iraq, despite opposition from Democrats who now control both houses of the legislature.

The U.S. military said on Sunday that about 3,200 soldiers had arrived in Baghdad, the first of some 17,000 reinforcements to the city, the epicenter of sectarian violence that kills hundreds of Iraqis every week.

The U.S. military blames much of the violence on the Mehdi Army militia of Sadr, whose political movement on Sunday ended the boycott of parliament, soothing a rift with its Shi'ite allies in Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.