Mahdi Army Evicted in Diwaniyah
Sistani Reassures Kurds
Iraqi National Guards evicted Mahdi Army fighters from a building that they had occupied in Diwaniyah on Friday.
Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder discusses the ways in which the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr retains its hegemony in East Baghdad despite American rules that its militiamen cannot appear in public armed. His local sources tell him that the militiamen do not need to carry weapons in the streets because they are already in control of the teeming ghetto.
Jeffrey Gettleman of the NYT supported Lasseter’s point in his own piece on Saturday, saying that at Friday prayers mosques, Mahdi Army militiamen boasted of having cracked down on crime in East Baghdad.
reported that Sadrist clerics continued to denounce the US in their Friday prayers this weekend. He wrote:
At Friday Prayer, many imams continued to inveigh against the American presence. “We will not let the ill-omened trinity rule our country,” Sheik Jaber al-Khafaji said at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Najaf, referring to the United States, Britain and Israel.
It turns out that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s meeting earlier this week with Sunni clerics was with a delegation of Kurds, who were requesting that he issue a fatwa. The Kurds wanted him to weigh in on the issue of Kurdish property usurped by Saddam and given to Arabs that he brought into the north to “Arabize” it.
Sistani did issue a statement saying that everyone who has a rightful claim should be given his due. He also said that such matters should be judged by Islamic courts, and that no one should take matters into his own hands or resort to violence.