Saturday, May 26, 2007

About Al-Sadr's Reappearance in Iraq

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The Washington Post has an interesting piece about the return of al-Sadr:

The influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr emerged publicly on Friday for the first time in months, calling for U.S. forces to leave Iraq and vowing to defend Sunnis and Christians. His appearance, and remarks, seemed part of an ongoing tactical shift by Sadr to recast himself as a nationalist who can unify and lead a post-occupation Iraq.
As in previous speeches, Sadr demanded a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops. He urged an end to clashes between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraq's security forces and called on his militiamen to stage peaceful demonstrations and "be patient," seemingly a show of concern about a lack of discipline in the ranks. He criticized the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not providing basic services to Iraqis and urged Sunnis to unite with Shiites against the U.S. occupation.

Significantly, Sadr for perhaps the first time declared that he would protect Sunnis and Christians, the two groups that his militia has been widely accused of killing by the thousands and driving from their homes in the sectarian violence plaguing the nation. Sadr told his followers that it was "forbidden" to spill "the blood of our brothers, the Sunnis and Christians." He railed against Sunni extremists who have recently been forcing Christians to convert to Islam, calling such actions "detestable" and against the principles of Islam.

Watch for the same righties who claimed al-Sadr's vanishing act was proof that he feared the surge, to now crow that al-Sadr's return to Iraq is proof that the surge is working.

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