Muqtada: The UN has Agreed to the Occupation of Iraq
Excerpts from and comments by me on an IRNA (Iran) news agency interview with Muqtada al-Sadr, 23 Feb. 04 (courtesy BBC monitoring) follow. Muqtada al-Sadr, 30, is the son of revered Iraqi cleric Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who was assassinated by Saddam in 1999. Muqtada has taken a radical stance, demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Sadr: “I will only negotiate with the Americans if their country says that it has come here to liberate us not to occupy us. That is because occupying a country is incompatible with the very principle of holding negotiations. We are not hostile to America, but we are the enemy of occupation.” ‘
Asked about the UN finding that elections could not be held before June 30, he said that the UN did not have the right to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs and added, “The UN has agreed to the occupation of Iraq.” He went on:
‘ The issue of the elections must be considered under the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League and that is because those two organizations are closer to Iraq. At least, they have not declared their agreement to the occupation of Iraq . . . All the parties involved have agreed upon the necessity of holding elections in Iraq. However, they have a difference of opinion over its details . . .
“From the very beginning, I believed that the occupiers did not want Iraq to enjoy either the rule of the people or freedom. . . There is no reaction at present. If there is a reaction, it is going to be manifested through such peaceful means as staging demonstrations or sit-ins. ‘ He warned that violence would damage Islam and the Shi`ite branch of Islam. . . .
He said that elections could not be held while the country was occupied: ‘ Holding elections is one of the symbols of the rule of the people. It is not compatible with occupation, which is a symbol of dictatorship . . . ‘
Muqtada said he was opposed to the postponement of elections until 2005, and that he opposed the Interim Governing Council as collaborators with the occupation.
He said he opposed the division of Iraq along ethnic lines, and opposed a loose federal system that recognized such divisions: “ The territorial integrity of Iraq must be preserved from north to south and from east to west.” . . .
Of Iraq’s future government: “I only want a government based on freedom and the rule of the people. Obviously, such a government will be an Islamic one. “