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Why Negotiations With Sadr Will Fail

Posted By Blackfive • [April 16, 2004]

First of all, Sadr is stalling. He has help from the Iranians. He has thousands of armed men.

Then, of course, he hasn't been very forthcoming about the conditions of his surrender:

Rebel leaders warns US: I am ready to face martyrdom
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
17 April 2004

Muqtada Sadr, the Shia cleric whom the US army is trying to arrest, warned yesterday that negotiations to end the stand-off in Najaf were near collapse.

Sadr, wearing a white shroud to show he is willing to face death, appeared in the mosque of the nearby town of Kufa showing that the US encirclement of Najaf is less than complete. He said: "I am ready to face martyrdom."

His spokesman, Sheikh Fuad al-Tarafi, said: "I believe that the mediation will not continue for long. There are no results from these negotiations and [they] could collapse." The US has been demanding that Sadr be arrested and his Army of the Mehdi disbanded, something he says he will not do...

Some of you may be wondering why the United States is demanding Sadr's arrest. Bobby Sr. found this scoop from The Australian about the evidence proving that Sadr had rival cleric Abdul Majeed al-Khoei murdered.

How Iraqi judge cornered Sadr
Journalist of the Year Peter Wilson is the first reporter to obtain a brief charging Moqtada al-Sadr with killing a pro-Western rival
April 17, 2004

THE radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is today holed up in Iraq's sacred city of Najaf, trying to negotiate a face-saving compromise after failing to ignite a general uprising among the nation's Shi'ite Muslim majority.

But Sadr's future does not rest with the clerics and other go-betweens who are hoping to avert a bloody showdown between his 1000-strong militia and the 2500 US troops ringing Najaf.

The fate of Sadr - the angry 30-year-old who last week pledged to destroy the coalition's campaign in Iraq - rests with a legal brief that was carefully compiled over the past year by a provincial Iraqi judge.

It is this brief that led to an arrest warrant being issued for Sadr and some of his supporters, provoking his Mahdi Army to take control of several southern towns last week, raising the deadly possibility of a united insurgency by Shi'ite and Sunni hardliners until more moderate Shi'ite leaders disowned him.

A detailed summary of the case against Sadr, which has been obtained by The Weekend Australian, shows that the prosecuting judge, Raid Juhy, has laid a much wider range of charges against the radical cleric than was previously known.
<...>
According to the brief, Juhy has found an eyewitness who is willing to testify that Sadr, who saw Khoei as a threat to his ambitions, became aware of Khoei's visit and planned with his associates to kill him.

A second eyewitness says that when Sadr and a group of followers entered the mosque and saw Khoei's group, Sadr's followers said; "Just say the word, master, and we will attack."

The brief says: "Sadr replied, 'Just wait, just wait'."

A funeral procession then came into the mosque, and using this distraction, Sadr called to his followers to attack.

"(The) witness reported that Sadr said, 'By the will of God, attack'."

Sadr then left the mosque and returned to his office, whereupon his followers drew AK-47s from their robes and started firing in the direction of Khoei and his group in the Khaladaria, an area in which the offices of the mosque clerics are located.

Khoei's bodyguard was armed with a pistol and returned fire.

"During the course of the firefight Khoei suffered an injury to his hand, losing a couple of fingers. When the Khoei group ran out of ammunition, Riyadh Nouri, a key Sadr lieutenant, called out on a megaphone for a ceasefire," the brief says.

"He offered Khoei a hearing to defend himself in Sadr's nearby office. Khoei agreed, but as they emerged from the Khaladaria in the mosque, the Sadr mob descended upon them and began beating and stabbing them.

"At the entrance (of the mosque), Haider al-Kaliedar (Khoei's bodyguard) died from the knife attacks. At this point, Khoei and two of his group broke free and ran to the office of Sadr, suffering from many stab wounds and the beatings. Sadr refused to open the door to the office.

"At this point, a merchant from across the street came and collected the three persons, helping them into his shop. There Khoei passed out from his stabbing and gunshot wounds. Two clerics from the Sadr office came into the shop and tested Khoei's pulse.

"They then left and reported to Sadr. The mob gathered outside the shop and Sadr left his office.

"There is a (third) eyewitness who can testify that Sadr gave the direction to take him (Khoei) away and 'Kill him in your own special way'.

"Khoei was dragged from the shop and down the street by his feet, with his head banging on each of the stone steps down to the next street level. He was dragged up that street to about 50 metres from the entrance to the Imam Ali mosque, and there a Sadr follower produced an AK-47 and shot Khoei in the head.

"The other two persons who were left in the shop when Khoei was dragged out escaped to the coalition forces compound in Najaf and subsequently left the country."

It is those two survivors of the fight that the judge has flown to London to interview...

Sadr has no options. He either gets arrested and probably gets executed/martyred or he dies a martyr in a blaze of glory. After what he's done to our troops and the democratization of Iraq, I vote for the latter option.


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