Sadr won’t Oppose US Crackdown on Militia; Al-Musawi Denies Mahdi Army Disbanded; Demands National Referendum on SOFA

Two bombings near a university in Baghdad killed 2 and wounded 23 persons on Monday. 3 GIs were announced killed on Monday in separate incidents. Some 15 Iraqis were estimated killed in political violence, with 43 wounded.

The Sadr Movement says it will not oppose the planned military operation in Amara as long as the Iraqi government does not take advantage of it to make arbitrary arrests of its members.

Gulf News reports that on Thursday the al-Maliki government will attack Shiite militias in Amara, the southern capital of Maysan Province. Basil Adas gives several reasons for the military operation, based on his interviews with Iraqi officials:

  • To stop weapons smuggling into Iraq from Iran. Maysan is near to Iran and its marshes make good hiding places for smugglers.
  • To stop the high rate of political assassinations in the city.
  • to stop drug smuggling
  • To stop petroleum smuggling from Amara’s Bazargan, Abu Gharb, Fakah and Amara by militiamen
  • To further harry the Mahdi Army special forces units that fled to Amara from Basra.

    The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council is moving to revoke the immunity of parliamentarians from prosecution in Iraq. Sunni Arab MPs are afraid that the move is politically motivated and aimed at allowing the government to arrest outspoken Sunni Arab politicians such as Adnan Dulaimi, a leader of the Iraqi Accord Front. There are fears that the ruling will allow political vendettas within parliament.

    Iraqis internally displaced by sectarian violence are demanding that the Iraqi government do something to return them to their homes. They complain that whereas the government rushed to clean out Sadr City and Basra, the West Baghdad strongholds of invading Shiite militiamen have not been addressed.

    A recent report by the Pew Charitable Trust found that a lot of people in the Muslim world are angry at the US government, however much they like our bubble gum music.

    The USG Open Source Center translates passages from the sermon of Sheikh Jalal al-Din Saghir, preacher at the Shiite Buratha Mosque in north Baghdad, about the Status of Forces agreement now being negotiated between Iraq and the US. Saghir is a prominent member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the main parliamentary backer of PM Nuri al-Maliki:

    Roundup of Iraqi Friday Sermons 13 Jun
    Iraq — OSC Summary
    Saturday, June 14, 2008 . . .

    Within its 1700 GMT newscast, Baghdad Al-Furat Television Channel in Arabic – television channelaffiliated with the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council (IISC) led by Abd-al-Azizal-Hakim, carries the following report on today’s Friday sermons . . .

    The channel carries anepisode of its weekly “Friday Sermons” program at 1815 GMT, as follows:

    Shaykh Jalal-al-Dinal-Saghir says: “Regarding the security agreement, praise be to God, therewere many positive changes this week. The Americans presented new proposals tothe Iraqi negotiator. These proposals, although I do not want to uncover theirnature, but in general, they show significant progress in meeting the Iraqidemands. Our demands, inasmuch as they are simple, they are very clear. Theyare of the kind toward which we have no ability to retreat from. Without thesedemands we will not be able to go in any direction with any state, be itAmerica or any other state. The first of these demands is sovereignty. Iraqshould restore its sovereignty and have control on its resources and land, andthe only law that should apply to the Iraqi people is the Iraqi law. Thisdemand is simple and very clear. We have not been a cause for putting Iraqunder the mandate of Chapter VII, and, consequently, for violating Iraq’ssovereignty. These issues were caused by the acts of criminal Saddam and hisfollies. Iraq has been under Chapter VII since 1991.” Al-Saghir thenspeaks about the meaning of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

    Al-Saghir adds:”Although we still say that we are not responsible for Saddam’s crimes, weare still suffering and paying a dear price as a result of these crimes. Westill pay huge funds to Kuwait from Iraq’s budget every year. If Iran sues uson what happened during its wars and obtains an international ruling on thisissue, we will also pay. We still pay or are threatened to pay to scores ofstates that were harmed by criminal Saddam.”

    He says: “Somepoliticians who practice one-upmanship, very regrettably, talk about theseissues in the language of selling and buying. Over the past two weeks we haveseen two examples of these politicians; a politician who practicesone-upmanship in favor of the Americans and another practices one-upmanshipagainst the Americans.” He says that “we should deal with such issuesresponsibly and very cautiously.”

    He adds: “I say thatregarding our demands on the issue of sovereignty, the Americans now speak witha different language and there is progress in this regard. However, withoutfinding very clearly that we have been liberated from the mandate of ChapterVII and Iraq’s funds are fully protected, we will not be able to say that wehave been liberated or that we have restored our sovereignty. Therefore, nopolitician can sign any document in this regard.” . .

    The USG Open Source Center translates an interview in the Kuwaiti al-Watan newspaper with Dr. Asma al-Musawi of the Sadr Movement, in which she comments on negotiations between the US and Iraqi governments on a Status of Forces Agreement. She confirms that the Sadrists insist that any SOFA be submitted for a national referendum and says that if such a referendum passed the agreement, the Sadrists would accept it. She also confirms that the government of PM Nuri al-Maliki has decided to exclude the Sadrists from the fall provincial elections on the grounds that the Sadr Movement maintains an armed militia, the Mahdi Army. (But the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, al-Maliki’s current power base, also maintains a militia, the Badr Corps, but it is not being sanctioned for it. Muqtada al-Sadr’s recent decisions to turn the bulk of the Mahdi Army into a social service organization and to field candidates only under other party lists appear to be calculated to get around al-Maliki’s decision.

    Al-Sadr Trend Agrees on Security Agreement Under Condition of Public Referendum
    Report by Mazin Sahib: “Al-Sadri Trend Accepts the Security Agreement Under the Condition of the People’s Acceptance; US Army: ‘Number of Al-Sadrists Opposing the Agreement is Decreasing’”
    Al-Watan (Internet Version-WWW)
    Monday, June 16, 2008
    OSC Document

    Dr Asma al-Musawi, member of the political committee of Al-Sadr Trend, has denied the disbandment of the Imam Al-Mahdi Army. She emphasized that the trend may agree on the security agreement with Washington if it was put to a public referendum, and agreed by the Iraqi people in their absolute majority. The US Army said that the number of Sadrists, who oppose the agreement, is decreasing.

    Al-Musawi said to Al-Watan that the statement by Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of this trend, on the reorganization of the Imam Al-Mahdi Army does not mean the disbandment of its organizations, it rather means the Shari’ah side will continue to fight the US forces and mandate small groups, which are personally entitled by him to do so, while the remaining members of the Al-Mahdi Army will carry out their cultural and ideological activity to resist the occupation.

    Al-Watan has also learned that this statement responds to the requirements of the agreement which was made between one of Al-Maliki’s advisors and the religious authority Ayatollah Kazim al-Ha’iri during the last visit of Al-Maliki to Tehran. This advisor, who is close to Al-Maliki, delivered a specific message that the government will not allow the Al-Sadr Trend to participate in the coming elections for the governorates’ councils or the parliamentary elections next year if a clear decision were not issued by Muqtada al-Sadr to dissolve the Al-Mahdi Army organizations and end their armed phenomena after the government has fulfilled its obligations in guaranteeing the inspection of Al-Sadr city without the interference of the US Army.

    On the Al-Sadr Trend’s position on signing the (US security) agreement, Al-Musawi said: ” The agreement must be submitted to a vote in a public referendum, and we will agree on what the people agree. Hence, we would agree to what the people agree on by their absolute rather than partial majority.” (passage omitted on statement by the US Army)

    (Description of Source: Kuwait Al-Watan (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic — Independent daily newspaper; Internet: http://www.alwatan.com.kw)