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Sadr Extends Ceasefire, Media Despondent

From a deeply saddened Reuters:

Iraqi Shiites carry a poster of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a rally in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Sadr city.

Iraqi cleric Sadr extends militia ceasefire

By Mariam Karouny and Tim Cocks

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr extended his Mehdi Army militia ceasefire by six months on Friday, a decision U.S. officials said would help foster reconciliation among Iraq’s divided communities.

The renewal was welcomed by Iraq’s government and the U.S. military, which both say the initial six-month truce helped to reduce attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops as well as tit-for-tat sectarian violence that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

In a statement, the U.S. military said it was ready for dialogue with Sadr’s movement, which opposes the American troop presence in Iraq. Sadr led his militia in two uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004…

A number of Mehdi Army members interviewed by Reuters expressed unhappiness with Sadr’s order, which they believe will expose them to attack by U.S. forces, but said they would obey.

We knew there would be an extension of the freeze, but we thought it would be for a shorter period and we expected to be allowed to act in self-defense against U.S. forces. Now, after this statement, we can’t defend ourselves,” said Amer al- Moussawi, a Mehdi Army member in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf.

The U.S. military has blamed the Mehdi Army for fuelling a cycle of sectarian violence with Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority in 2006 and 2007 and at one time called the militia the greatest single threat to peace in the country.

We have extended the freezing of activities of the Mehdi Army,” said Asaad al-Naseri, a preacher at a mosque in the holy Shi’ite town of Kufa, reading a statement issued by Sadr that was distributed to a number of prominent Shi’ite mosques.

Naseri said the renewal would last until mid-August

Sadr’s decision had been sent in sealed envelopes to imams of mosques affiliated with the cleric. The imams had been ordered to read the decision at midday Muslim prayers.

Many Mehdi Army members and Sadrist political leaders had wanted the truce scrapped, saying it was being exploited by Iraqi and U.S. forces to arrest Sadrists, especially in southern Iraq, where rival Shi’ite factions are vying for dominance.

Sadr called the truce after deadly clashes in late August between his militia, Iraqi forces and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), a rival Shi’ite faction, in the city of Kerbala.

Some analysts had said Sadr would be forced to renew the truce given higher U.S. troop levels in Iraq, a move by some Sunni Arab insurgents to stop fighting and anger in Shi’ite areas at criminal activities by groups using the militia’s name

More bad news for our mainstream media and their Democrat masters.

Many Mehdi Army members and Sadrist political leaders had wanted the truce scrapped, saying it was being exploited by Iraqi and U.S. forces…

Indeed, that is what our watchdog media also said. But never fear.

They can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by electing either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 22nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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