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Sadrists clash with Iraqi, US forces in Basra; Curfews in Shiite cities
by juan cole (reposted)
Wednesday Mar 26th, 2008 7:20 AM
From a Wednesday, March 26, 2008 entry on Informed Comment, Juan Cole's blog

Sadrists clash with Iraqi, US forces in Basra;
Curfews in Shiite cities

The truce between the Mahdi Army and the US military has broken down, putting a question mark over the future of the 'surge'.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that members of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI, formerly SCIRI, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim); the Da'wa Party led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; and the Badr Corps paramilitary of ISCI have fled their HQs in Basra and Kut, because of the threat that they will be stormed by Mahdi Army militiamen [seeking revenge for the current offensive], In fact, some such buildings already have been attacked.

Eyewitnesses reported clashes on Tuesday in Sadr City, east Baghdad, led by Mahdi Army militiamen against American and Iraqi forces. The latter had encircled Sadr City, while the Mahdi Army roamed its streets within. The sound of gunfire could be heard, and helicopter gunships were seen hovering above.

Nassar al-Rubaie, a leader of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc, announced that it would boycott parliamentary sessions until the targetting of his people ceased. The Sadrists have 30 seats in parliament.

Also in Baghdad on Tuesday, the Sadrists pursued a campaign of civil disobedience in Karkh and Rusafa to the west of Sadr City.

Al-Zaman says its sources in the Sadr Movement confirmed that the Mahdi Army has gained control of the main road between Amara and Basra, allowing it to cut the government troops off from military supplies.

A statement issued by Sadr said, "we call on all Iraqis to show restraint, throughout Iraq, as a first step. If the government does not respect the demands of the masses, then the second step will be disobedience in Baghdad and the rest of the provinces."

Eyewitnesses reported that heavy fighting was going on in Basra, in the slum districts of Hayaniya, Five Mile, and Jumhuriya in downtown Basra. Likewise in al-Ma`qal, al-Janinah, and al_Kazirah to the north of the city.

The head of the Sadrist politburo, Liwa' Sumaysim, said from Najaf. that "Sadr follows the events, and his communiques specify the need to resolve these clashes" . . . through dialogue and negotiation.

Fighting also started back up Tuesday evening in Kut, the center of that governorate.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Mahdi Army truce prevented killings
Wednesday Mar 26th, 2008 12:25 PM
The GW Bush regime is attempting to link Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army with Iran, in order to justify a U.S. invasion of Iran. That some trade and transfer of weapons will exist on the large border between Iraq and Iran is expected without casting blame on the Iranian government.

This unprovoked attack on the Mahdi Army by U.S. forces will soon show that the cease fire ordered by Al-Sadr was responsible for reduced violence and killings in Iraq. Now that the cease fire is over (thanks to U.S. attacking Mahdi stronghold), the populist supporters of the Mahdi Army will provide enough militia force to throw the U.S. troops out of Iraq, though maybe not too far from Iran?

This would be a good time to call your loved ones stuck in the U.S. military and suggest they go AWOL ASAP, or let them keep their false pride and die in the deserts of Iraq for the benefit of the GW Bush regime's petroleum cabal. The U.S. military is not in Iraq for any other reason, and Al-Sadr and most Iraqis know this, hence the popular support given the Mahdi Army. They will fight not because they "hate Americans freedom" or some other silly reason, only because they wish to defend their land from the U.S. military occupation and the petroleum corporations thirsting for Iraq's oil reserves..

Why would the U.S. attack Moqtada Al-Sadr now? After a year long cease fire, the Mahdi Army was helping keep the peace between warring Sunni and Shia factions. Part of Moqtada Al-Sadr's message was greater unity and peaceful relations between ALL Muslims, focusing their collective energy on encouraging the U.S. occupiers to leave Iraq. Perhaps that is what made him so dangerous to the occupation forces, that healing the sectarian rift would only empower Iraqis to resist the U.S. occupation, instead of weakening them into accepting colonization by U.S. occupation forces..

Whatever happens from now on it is up to people in the U.S. to stop this occupation before this gets worse. We need more lock downs at military recruiting locations and possible actions at U.S. domestic bases, especially with air and sea transport. Let's not allow any more naive youth to go off to Iraq with guns and uniforms to die needless deaths. Ground all outgoing military flights from the U.S. and force a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. It seems that the only reason for this unprovoked attack on al-Sadr is coming from none other than the GW Bush regime in a last ditch effort to escalate conflict in Iraq and mobilize for additional military incursions into Iraq and possibly Iran..

While i am sad and regret the coming loss of life of many U.S. soldiers in Iraq, i completely and totally sympathize with Moqtada Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in resisting their attackers in the U.S. occupation forces. The Mahdi militia are only defending their country (Iraq, not U.S.!) against imperialist invaders from the U.S., much like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull tried here in North America against European colonialists. Best wishes to the Mahdi army in ousting the U.S. occupation forces from Iraq once and for all..