Mihri: Muqtada’s thugs include former Baathists
Muhammad Baqir al-Mihri, a Shiite clergyman, gave an interview to al-Sharq al-Awsat in Kuwait in which he condemed the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, saying it has no connection to the various Shiite clerical establishments. He said it had departed from the circle of accepted Shiite practice by attacking other Shiites and by accepting ex-Baathists among his ruffian followers. He said most Shiites support Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and condemned the Sadr Movement’s recent fighting in Karbala.
Meanwhile, Muqtada’s supporters mounted a demonstration in front of the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, but dispersed peacefully at the end of the day. The shrine is controlled by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
US military authorities say they are considering arresting Muqtada al-Sadr. Muqtada seems to me to have been attempting to provoke the US to make such a move, gambling it will vastly increase his popularity and stature. If the US does make such an arrest, it will cause a lot of trouble in Baghdad and Basra. It might be wiser to move against his movement in a subtler way, and by building up his moderate enemies. If he is arrested, it should be on solid charges of the sort that would hold up in a US court.