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Shiite leader al-Sadr defies Iraq gov't (orders followers to not surrender their weapons)
AP on Yahoo ^ | 3/29/08 | Robert H. Reid - ap

Posted on 03/29/2008 1:37:03 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

BAGHDAD - Anti-American Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers Saturday to defy government orders to surrender their weapons, as U.S. jets struck Shiite extremists near Basra to bolster a faltering Iraqi offensive against gunmen in the city.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acknowledged he may have miscalculated by failing to foresee the strong backlash that his offensive, which began Tuesday, provoked in areas of Baghdad and other cities where Shiite militias wield power.

Government television said the round-the-clock curfew imposed two days ago on the capital and due to expire Sunday would be extended indefinitely.

The U.S. Embassy tightened its security measures, ordering all staff to use armored vehicles for all travel in the Green Zone and to sleep in reinforced buildings until further notice after six days of rocket and mortar attacks which left two Americans dead.

Despite the mounting crisis, al-Maliki, himself a Shiite, vowed to remain in Basra until government forces wrest control from militias, including al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. He called the fight for control of Basra "a decisive and final battle."

British ground troops, who controlled the city until handing it over to the Iraqis last December, also joined the battle for Basra, firing artillery Saturday for the first time in support of Iraqi forces.

Iraqi authorities have given Basra extremists until April 8 to surrender heavy and medium weapons after an initial 72-hour ultimatum to hand them over was widely ignored.

But a defiant al-Sadr called on his followers Saturday to ignore the order, saying that his Mahdi Army would turn in its weapons only to a government that can "get the occupier out of Iraq," referring to the Americans.

The order was made public by Haidar al-Jabiri, a member of the influential political commission of the Sadrist movement.

Al-Sadr, in an interview aired Saturday by Al-Jazeera television, said his Mahdi Army was capable of "liberating Iraq" and maintained al-Maliki's government was as "distant" from the people as Saddam Hussein's.

Residents of Basra contacted by telephone said Mahdi militiamen were manning checkpoints Saturday in their neighborhood strongholds. The sound of intermittent mortar and machine gun fire rang out across the city, as the military headquarters at a downtown hotel came under repeated fire.

An Iraqi army battalion commander and two of his bodyguards were killed Saturday night by a roadside bomb in central Basra, military spokesman Col. Karim al-Zaidi said.

The fight for Basra is crucial for al-Maliki, who flew to Basra earlier this week and is staking his credibility on gaining control of Iraq's second-largest city, which has essentially been held by armed groups for nearly three years.

In a speech Saturday to tribal leaders in Basra, al-Maliki promised to "stand up to these gangs" not only in the south but throughout Iraq.

Iraqi officials and their American partners have long insisted that the crackdown was not directed at al-Sadr's movement but against criminals and renegade factions — some of whom are allegedly tied to Iran.

Al-Maliki told tribal leaders that the offensive in Basra "was only to deal with these gangs" — some of which he said "are worse than al-Qaida."

Without mentioning the Sadrists by name, al-Maliki said he was "surprised to see that party emerge with all the weapons available to it and strike at everything — institutions, people, departments, police stations and the army."

Al-Sadr's followers have accused rival Shiite parties in the national government of trying to crush their movement before provincial elections this fall. The young cleric's lieutenants had warned repeatedly that any move to dislodge them from Basra would provoke bloodshed.

But al-Maliki's comments appeared to reinforce suspicions that his government failed to foresee the backlash, including a sharp upsurge in violence throughout the Shiite south and shelling of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, the nerve center of the Iraqi leadership and the U.S. mission.

Two American soldiers were killed Saturday when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in mostly Shiite east Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The growing turmoil threatens to undermine White House efforts to convince a skeptical Congress and the American public that the Iraqis are making progress toward managing their own security without the presence of U.S. troops.

With the Shiite militiamen defiant, a group of police in the Mahdi Army's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City abandoned their posts and handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office. Police forces in Baghdad are believed to be heavily influenced or infiltrated by Mahdi militiamen.

"We can't fight our brothers in the Mahdi Army, so we came here to submit our weapons," one policeman said on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

He said about 40 policemen had defected to the Mahdi Army. The figure could not be confirmed, but AP Television News footage showed about a dozen uniformed police, their faces covered with masks to shield their identity, being met by Sheik Salman al-Feraiji, al-Sadr's chief representative in Sadr City.

Al-Feraiji greeted each policeman and gave them a copy of the Quran and an olive branch as they handed over their guns and ammunition.

On Saturday, Iraqi officials said they had received a phone call from Tahseen Sheikhly, the high-profile civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security operation, who was seized by gunmen two days earlier from at his home in a Shiite area of the capital.

An Iraqi-owned satellite television station, Sharqiya, broadcast what it said was a tape of the conversation, in which a man identifying himself as Sheikhly said he was being held "with a group of officers" at an unknown location.

"Our release depends on the withdrawal of al-Maliki from Basra and the easing of the military operations against the Sadrists in all provinces," he said. "We appeal to the prime minister and the Iraqi government to work with the Sadrist movement, which represents the popular base of society."

In Basra, U.S. jets dropped two precision-guided bombs at midday Saturday on a suspected militia stronghold at Qarmat Ali north of the city, British military spokesman Maj. Tom Holloway said.

"My understanding was that this was a building that had people who were shooting back at Iraqi ground forces," Holloway said.

Iraqi police said that earlier in the day a U.S. warplane strafed a house and killed eight civilians, including two women and one child. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

The U.S. military had no immediate comment on the report and it was not possible to independently verify it.

Iraq's Health Ministry, which is close to the Sadrist movement, on Saturday reported at least 75 civilians have been killed and at least 500 others injured in a week of clashes and airstrikes in Sadr City and other eastern Baghdad neighborhoods.

The U.S. military sharply disputes the claims, having said that most of those killed were militia members.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alsadr; baghdad; basra; defies; iraq; mahdiarmy; maliki; shiite

1 posted on 03/29/2008 1:37:05 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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Sheik Salman al-Feraiji, right, Muqtada al-Sadr's chief representative in Sadr City, takes weapons from a group of Iraqi policemen in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 29, 2008. Some 40 policemen in Sadr City handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office Saturday. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)


2 posted on 03/29/2008 1:37:48 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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A member of the Iraqi security forces kisses a copy of the Koran given to him BY a member of Moqtada al-Sadr's office in Baghdad's Sadr City March 29, 2008. In Baghdad's Sadr City, Sadr's main stronghold, a group of Iraqi police and soldiers surrendered themselves and their weapons to the local Sadr office, a Reuters photographer said. The spokesman for Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, Major-General Qassim Moussawi, sought to play down the desertions, saying he had received reports of only 15 men surrendering. He said those who did so would be court-martialled. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)


3 posted on 03/29/2008 1:40:06 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: NormsRevenge

It’s time to stop playing with this porker. If we ever want to end this thing in Iraq, we need to take out Sadr NOW!


4 posted on 03/29/2008 1:40:46 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (How many more "scientists and researchers" can the taxpayers afford to support with Federal grants?)
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To: NormsRevenge
He's removing any doubt that he's an unrepentant sinner who, along with his delusional followers, must be destroyed.
5 posted on 03/29/2008 1:42:07 PM PDT by elhombrelibre (If you share Wright's pews, you share his views.)
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.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (2nd L) shakes hands with tribal members in Basra March 29, 2008. Iraqi interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani is seen at left. REUTERS/Iraqi Government Office/Handout (IRAQ).


6 posted on 03/29/2008 1:42:25 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: NormsRevenge
Some 40 policemen in Sadr City handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office Saturday.

30 out of how many, my guess out of 400(10% attrition rate). 40 who will get their 72 raisins in heaven.

The MSM is spinning like Linda Blair again.

7 posted on 03/29/2008 1:42:49 PM PDT by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: NormsRevenge
"Shiite leader al-Sadr defies Iraq gov't (orders followers to not surrender their weapons)

Works for me, neutralize those suckers!

8 posted on 03/29/2008 1:43:24 PM PDT by zerosix (native sunflower)
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To: NormsRevenge

Real shame the sissies in Washington balked at taking Fat Boy out years ago when first advised that it might be the smart thing to do.


9 posted on 03/29/2008 1:45:22 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: NormsRevenge
as U.S. jets struck Shiite extremists near Basra to bolster a faltering Iraqi offensive against gunmen in the city.

Strike Tehran or Esfahan or whatever part of Iran that fat little coward is hiding out in and KILL HIM for once and for all!

I am so SICK OF HIS CRAP!!!

10 posted on 03/29/2008 1:45:30 PM PDT by Allegra (Tehran delenda est)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Allegra; Dog; Bahbah

-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acknowledged he may have miscalculated by failing to foresee the strong backlash that his offensive, which began Tuesday, provoked in areas of Baghdad and other cities where Shiite militias wield power.

-Al-Sadr, in an interview aired Saturday by Al-Jazeera television, said his Mahdi Army was capable of “liberating Iraq” and maintained al-Maliki’s government was as “distant” from the people as Saddam Hussein’s.

-Two American soldiers were killed Saturday when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in mostly Shiite east Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

-Without mentioning the Sadrists by name, al-Maliki said he was “surprised to see that party emerge with all the weapons available to it and strike at everything — institutions, people, departments, police stations and the army.”


11 posted on 03/29/2008 1:46:56 PM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
Is fat boy in Iraq now or still hiding in Iran.? I would think he would be worth 1 hellfire missile and any collateral damage around him would be considered bonus points.
12 posted on 03/29/2008 1:47:33 PM PDT by cpdiii (roughneck, oilfield trash and proud of it, geologist, pilot, pharmacist, iconoclast.)
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To: NormsRevenge
"The growing turmoil threatens to undermine White House efforts to convince a skeptical Congress and the American public that the Iraqis are making progress toward managing their own security without the presence of U.S. troops."

Just more fallout from the total mismanagement of the war from the outset that is being addressed now, at this late date, after American opinion has been reversed and after a couple of thousand unnecessary US deaths and thousands of catastrophic injuries. In this instance, it is the failure to take this Mullah out when it was both clear that he was a serious problem and it was possible. This failure is only one of many opportunities missed in this mess and the US soldier, their families, the US Taxpayer and long suffering Iraqis are all paying the price for this rank incompetence. JMO!

13 posted on 03/29/2008 1:47:42 PM PDT by TCats (The Clintons Are Not Just Wrong - They Are Certifiable AND Dangerous! See my Page)
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To: NormsRevenge

A pro terrorist article put out by the ap,who would have thunk it;)


14 posted on 03/29/2008 1:48:40 PM PDT by mdittmar (May God watch over those who serve,and have served,to keep us free)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
It’s time to stop playing with this porker. If we ever want to end this thing in Iraq, we need to take out Sadr NOW!

Why, oh why is this guy still breathing?

15 posted on 03/29/2008 1:49:06 PM PDT by stevem
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To: Allegra

I was pinging you while you were posting..

I’m praying this isn’t turning into Fallujah part deux.


16 posted on 03/29/2008 1:49:59 PM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: cpdiii
Is fat boy in Iraq now or still hiding in Iran.?

He's in Iran. He's too chickensh!t to show his ugly mug in Iraq.

17 posted on 03/29/2008 1:52:58 PM PDT by Allegra (Tehran delenda est)
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To: cpdiii

Why Mookie is still sucking air is an absoute mystery to me. The only thing I can think of is that he is working for us in some capacity by getting information on Iranian strategy. I hope its the case—otherwise we are total stoodges.


18 posted on 03/29/2008 1:53:48 PM PDT by rbg81 (DRAIN THE SWAMP!!)
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To: Kolokotronis

I thought this POS was sick or something and dying????Yeesh!


19 posted on 03/29/2008 1:54:31 PM PDT by Recovering Ex-hippie
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To: FlingWingFlyer
He should have been taken out 3 years ago. Instead, he's been allowed to fortify his "army" with Iranian weapons and money, and get away with murder time and time agian.
20 posted on 03/29/2008 1:57:46 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: stevem

“Al-Sadr, in an interview aired Saturday by Al-Jazeera”
For those who thought he was dead or in a coma.


21 posted on 03/29/2008 1:58:39 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: Dane

There are more than 400 INP in Sadr City let alone local IP.
Sadr City has a population of 2mil...

More like 40 out of 4,000 ISF in that district of Baghdad...


22 posted on 03/29/2008 2:02:34 PM PDT by DJ Elliott
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To: NormsRevenge

ISF assigned to Sadr City Security District include:
- 8th Brigade, Iraqi National Police (2200 pers)
- 44th Brigade, Iraqi Army (2,500 pers)
- Local Iraqi Police

So those 40 are a half a percent of the ISF in that sector...


23 posted on 03/29/2008 2:07:08 PM PDT by DJ Elliott
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To: SE Mom

“I’m praying this isn’t turning into Fallujah part deux.”

This seems really bad! But I think it was inevitable. Sadr was planning to attack as soon as the surge ended. Too bad for him we have an excellent general in Patreus that foresaw this and convinced the President to pause further drops in the amount of troops we have there.


24 posted on 03/29/2008 2:08:56 PM PDT by Fox_Mulder77 ($15,000 to the first Trinity congregate to tell the world they saw Obama listening to Wright's venom)
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To: NormsRevenge

Kill that fat POS and all those around him. No more friggen debate...just KILL HIM.


25 posted on 03/29/2008 2:10:28 PM PDT by Gator113 (Obama has "changed" me. I am now "a Typical White Person”.)
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To: Fox_Mulder77

Yep- but it’s my understanding that Mookie hasn’t called off his second “ceasefire”. ppfffttt...

This is a mess- Maliki better have a plan B.


26 posted on 03/29/2008 2:11:37 PM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: SE Mom
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acknowledged he may have miscalculated by failing to foresee the strong backlash

No worries, man. Now that they have come out of the woodwork, smash 'em.

27 posted on 03/29/2008 2:14:40 PM PDT by Bahbah
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To: SE Mom

This may have a lot to do with Cheney’s recent visits to Middle East countries.
The visit caused the Kuwaiti parliament to resign, and the Saudi’s to agree to increase oil production. The Saudi’s have also begun planning for nuclear fallout from Iranian nuke facilities if they are attacked by us.

Sadr and Iran are joined together at the hip. His army may be under the orders of Iran to attack us in Iraq so that we’ll think twice about destroying Iranian nuke facilities.

Just my opinion :-p


28 posted on 03/29/2008 2:21:29 PM PDT by Fox_Mulder77 ($15,000 to the first Trinity congregate to tell the world they saw Obama listening to Wright's venom)
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To: Fox_Mulder77; SE Mom
This seems really bad!

It's bad. I can't speak for Basra, but I have not seen chaos in Baghdad like this since 2004.

29 posted on 03/29/2008 2:23:22 PM PDT by Allegra (Tehran delenda est)
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To: NormsRevenge

This is only the sixth year of a hundred year war and occupation. So relax and enjoy.


30 posted on 03/29/2008 2:25:01 PM PDT by trane250
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To: SE Mom
Without mentioning the Sadrists by name, al-Maliki said he was “surprised to see that party emerge with all the weapons available to it and strike at everything — institutions, people, departments, police stations and the army.”

Well Sir, now you know the scope of of the problem you face from your enemy and the enemy of the Iraqi people. What are you going to do about it? Hint; Declaring a cease fire is not an option. Further hint; If you don't beat them now, what are you going to do when we depart? Are you getting this Sir? Do you understand? Because you didn't seem to understand it in the past.

31 posted on 03/29/2008 2:29:23 PM PDT by Nuc1 (NUC1 Sub pusher SSN 668 (Liberals Aren't Patriots))
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To: SE Mom

Thanks,...will be back later.


32 posted on 03/29/2008 2:38:04 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: trane250
This is only the sixth year of a hundred year war and occupation. So relax and enjoy.

You're still here? How are things at the Washington Post these days, anyway?

33 posted on 03/29/2008 2:44:21 PM PDT by Allegra (Tehran delenda est)
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To: NormsRevenge

Allowing sanctuaries in Iran was going to be a problem from day ONE

Bush didn’t learn anything form Vietnam


34 posted on 03/29/2008 3:01:16 PM PDT by uncbob
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To: Allegra
You got it so right and you're right there. I hope that is the prevailing feeling and Mookies hours on earth are numbered. The sooner he gets his perceived reward the better.

Stay safe our FReeper girl on location.

35 posted on 03/29/2008 3:13:44 PM PDT by mcshot (Our pets look to us as we look to God. May we be as good as they trust.)
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To: Allegra

Hopefully, we take out the trash once for all. We severely defeated the Mahdi Army in Najaf in 2005. They need to be eliminated.


36 posted on 03/29/2008 3:29:47 PM PDT by tlj18 (Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President!)
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To: uncbob
There is growing evidence that Iran is getting bombed this year. It's about time! I'd volunteer to participate, but I'm in the Army... so - yeah.

(Besides, you cannot volunteer to go downrange. You can only be ordered there. It's not as simple as filling out a DA 4187 :-) )

37 posted on 03/29/2008 3:33:33 PM PDT by tlj18 (Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President!)
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To: NormsRevenge
Jorge needs to answer the question, why is dog breath Sadr still living, but then he cannot control out borders why would anyone think he was serious about Iraq.
38 posted on 03/29/2008 3:48:07 PM PDT by org.whodat (What's the difference between a Democrat and a republican????)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

It’s time to stop playing with this porker. If we ever want to end this thing in Iraq, we need to take out Sadr NOW!”

Agreed! This jerk should have been removed in the original Shock and Awe of the war.


39 posted on 03/29/2008 4:17:08 PM PDT by ridesthemiles
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To: trane250

You’re a real piece of work, aren’t you..


40 posted on 03/29/2008 4:25:57 PM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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