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Iraq Cleric to Followers: Stop Attacking U.S. Troops

Anti-American cleric doesn’t want U.S. withdrawal from the country slowed down

Image: Followers gather for prayers in Sadr City, Baghdad, beside a poster of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
File photo: Followers gather for Friday prayers in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, near a poster depicting radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

By Lara Jakes and Sameer N. Yacoub 

September 11, 2011

BAGHDAD — An anti-American cleric is urging his followers to stop attacking U.S. troops in Iraq so that their withdrawal from the country isn’t slowed down, a call meant to ramp up pressure on Baghdad’s political leaders who are considering asking some American forces to stay.

In a statement posted on his website, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his militias to halt attacks against U.S. forces till the withdrawal is finished at the end of the year as required under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad.

“Out of my desire to complete Iraq’s independence and to finish the withdrawal of the occupation forces from our holy lands, I am obliged to halt military operations of the honest Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal of the occupation forces is complete,” al-Sadr said in the statement, posted late Saturday. …

However, al-Sadr warned that “if the withdrawal doesn’t happen … the military operations will be resumed in a new and tougher way.” …

After more than eight years of war, many weary Iraqis are ready to see U.S. troops go, and staunchly defend their national sovereignty against an American force they see as occupiers. …

Full story


6/22/2014 Update

Mahdi Army militiamen march during a parade in Karbala, southwest of Baghdad (Photo: Reuters via The Daily Telegraph)

Shiite ‘Peace Brigades’ Send Signal of Aggression With Major Rally

By Loveday Morris

June 21, 2014

BAGHDAD — Carrying assault rifles, homemade rocket launchers and missiles, row after row of men in combat fatigues marched through the streets of Baghdad on Saturday, signaling the resurgence of one of Iraq’s most feared Shiite militias.

Tens of thousands of fighters loyal to the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr packed the streets of Sadr City, the Shiite neighborhood in the capital named after his father. Other rallies were held in cities to the south.

The marches effectively signaled a return to arms for the Mahdi Army, the powerful militia led by Sadr that once spearheaded an armed campaign against U.S. troops in Iraq and is now regrouping in the face of an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency.

While the fighters marched in Baghdad, their enemies from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized a key border crossing with Syria. Its capture gave ISIS control of most of the Iraq-Syria border, erasing the line drawn by colonial powers to demarcate the two nations in the wake of World War I. …

The Mahdi Army’s activities have been frozen since 2008, after a period of violent sectarian conflict during which its members ran death squads targeting Sunnis and battled U.S. soldiers. …

Announcing the “peace brigades” a day after the fall of the northern city of Mosul, Sadr stressed that he was not willing to fight a “dirty militia war.” His call to arms has been backed up by a religious decree by Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, though Sistani has urged volunteers to join the security forces rather than militias. …

Although U.S. interests are overlapping with the Shiite militias’ as both attempt to push back the ISIS advance, anti-American sentiments ran high Saturday.

“No to America! No to Israel!” the militiamen chanted.

“If America is going to send troops back to Iraq, we are a time bomb waiting for them,” said Adel Jabbar al-Bawi, a 41-year-old merchant, sitting on the back of a truck after taking part in the march. “We will eat them alive.”

Others said they would welcome assistance in the form of airstrikes, as ISIS militants pressed their offensive against crumbling Iraqi government troops. …

Full story


Related reports on this site

In Sadr City district of Baghdad, a billboard has an image of Moktada al-Sadr, second from left. His candidates won 40 seats in last March’s elections. (Photo credit: Shiho Fukada / The New York Times)

Muqtada al-Sadr: ‘Stop Killing Americans’ (Sept. 12, 2011)

Muqtada Al-Sadr Threatens to Unleash Mahdi Army Militia (April 9, 2011)

Muqtada al-Sadr’s Triumphant Return to Iraq (Jan. 8, 2011)

Muqtada al-Sadr Rises to Power (Oct. 1, 2010)

Muqtada al-Sadr on the March (March 31, 2010)

Muqtada al-Sadr Urges ‘Revenge Operations’ (Jan. 9, 2009)



One Year Ago — September 12, 2010

Star Tribune: Tom Horner ‘Serious Contender’

One year ago today, I noted that the Star Tribune — Minnesota’s largest and most influential newspaper — ran an extraordinary editorial that spoke to the core issues in Minnesota’s 2010 gubernatorial race.


Two Years Ago — September 12, 2009

Al Eisele Pans Michele Bachmann

Two years ago today, on September 12, 2009, I reported that veteran journalist Al Eisele of the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill made astute first-hand observations of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s behavior from the gallery at President Barack Obama’s Sept. 10, 2009 address on health care reform before a Joint Session of Congress, noting that he had “never seen anyone display the disdainful attitude toward a president” that Bachmann did.


Three Years Ago — September 12, 2008

2008 Deadliest Year Yet for U.S. in Afghanistan

Three years ago today, on September 12, 2008, I reported that the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan on September 11 brought the year’s death toll to 112, surpassing the 2007 record toll of 111 and making 2008 the deadliest for American forces in Afghanistan since the U.S. invaded the country in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I also reported that Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, “I’m not convinced we are winning in Afghanistan.” Meanwhile, in Iraq, followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against plans for a U.S.-Iraq status-of-forces agreement, burning U.S. and Israeli flags.

Shiite followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against plans for a U.S.-Iraqi status-of-forces agreement, burning American and Israeli flags and chanting, “No, America, no! No, agreement, no!” (Associated Press file photo of earlier demonstration)

2 Responses to “Iraq War Update — Muqtada al-Sadr: ‘Stop Killing Americans’”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Insurgents Target Iraqi Soldiers, Police in Spate of Attacks Says:

    […] Muqtada al-Sadr: ‘Stop Killing Americans’ (Sept. 12, 2011) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Day of Defeating the Occupier’ Celebrated in Iraq Says:

    […] Al-Sadr Threatens U.S. to Honor Withdrawal Agreement (Sept. 12, 2011) […]

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