Al-Maliki: May ask US Troops to Leave; Al-Sadr Forms Special Groups to Fight Occupation

First, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that negotiations between Iraq and the Bush administration over a status of forces agreement were at an impasse. He said that the US was asking Iraq to give up too much sovereignty. Earlier this week he had met with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who warned him against giving away Iraq’s sovereignty to the US.

Then on Friday al-Maliki went further:

‘ “Iraq has another option that it may use,” Maliki said during a visit to Amman, Jordan. “The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil.” ‘

Other senior Iraqi officials speculated that al-Maliki was bluffing, as part of his negotiations with the US. But there is also the possibility that al-Maliki is serious, and is overestimating the capacity of his security forces to control the country. Al-Maliki said that the negotiations with the US would continue.

Meanwhile, Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr announced in his Friday prayers sermon that
“resistance to the Occupation
will be limited to a Group that will be announced . . .”

Sadr said that he would fight the Occupation until it ended or the struggle lead to his own martyrdom. He added that ‘The fight against US troops will now be waged only by the new group, while other members will “take on a social and religious role,” Sadr said in a statement which was read out at mosques in the holy Shi’ite town of Kufa. ‘

American observers constantly underestimate the Sadr Movement, which is millions strong and has gotten stronger in the south as discontent with lack of services has risen.

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