Monday, May 01, 2006

Rare interview with Moqtada al-Sadr

Newsweek has been granted a rare interview with the populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A year ago the US military wanted him captured dead or alive. Just over twelve months later, Sadr, who has more than three million supporters holds the balance of power in the new Iraqi parliament.

Sadr is no friend of the West , in fact he has clearly stated that he will use his militia to attack any country that uses force against Iran or any other neighbouring Muslim country.

Below are some excerpts from the interview with the firebrand cleric who has transformed his position from one of being wanted for the murder of US and UK soldiers to that of a major player in the new Iraqi government.

NEWSWEEK: In 2003, the Americans and various Iraqi parties described you and your followers as a minor force. Clearly no one would say that now.

SADR: Time elapsed; things became clear and resulted in the Sadr trend—a powerful, loyal political and military force. At the same time, I reach out my hand to cooperate [and] to make peace in Iraq, to drive away the shadow of the armies of darkness. The occupation is the creator of all problems. I pray to Allah to take away the problems and their creator.

At one point the U.S. military and [American] political spokesmen said it was their aim to "kill or capture" you. Your reaction now?

Their threats are still on, and my life is cheap as a price for the service of Islam. America is baring its teeth against Shiite mosques and sanctuaries.

What happened to the murder warrant issued against you and some other people in the matter of Ayatollah [Abdel Majid] al-Khoei [Khoei was killed in April 2003]?

The arrest warrant was issued by the occupation, not by the Iraqi courts, and this is not legal. Many people were arrested over this matter, and they were released. This is true evidence that they are innocent.

It is said that you have made some contacts with Sunni resistance figures. Do you still have such relationships with them in the wake of the [attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra]?

There is no Sunni or Shia resistance; there is an Iraqi Islamic resistance. But I address the Sunnis through NEWSWEEK: One, they should specify their stance toward attacks on civilians. After the attack in Samarra, the Sunnis didn't have a clear stance. Two, their stance toward Takfiris [adherents to the extremist ideology espoused by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] is not clear. Three, they should specify their stance toward the Shia. Are we Muslims or not? Four, they should demand the execution of Saddam Hussein. And five, they should specify their stance toward families who have been displaced.

You blamed the Askariya shrine bombing on the Americans, in part. Can you explain your thinking?

There is only an incomplete sovereignty in Iraq, which means that the occupation is the decision maker. Any attack is their responsibility. The U.S. ambassador and Rumsfeld have ignited the sectarian crisis here

The Mahdi Army is supposedly the only faction that hasn't signed on to an agreement to incorporate militias into governing bodies. Can you explain why?

The Mahdi Army is not a militia. I issued a statement recently limiting the Mahdi Army personnel to cultural, social and religious acts.

Many people claim that Mahdi Army militiamen have been responsible for sectarian attacks in recent weeks. Others say they're simply defending their neighborhoods. What do you say?

Mahdi Army personnel are not sinless. But they are integrating themselves despite the harsh circumstances they live in.

You've become part of the political establishment now. Are you more moderate?

Everyone builds Iraq the way he sees fit. The most important issue is the timetable for the U.S. withdrawal. We know there will be no justice under occupation, at any time and any place. In fact, there will be no stability for anyone, since Iraq defines the destiny of the world. You can see the families of U.S. soldiers waiting for their sons, brothers, men to return home peacefully. Where is the distribution of justice and peace there?

Your partners in the ruling coalition are very much against insisting that the Americans leave immediately from Iraq; [they think] it would be a disaster.

We want to build our country by our own hands. I demand a timetable. Even if it is for a long time, it doesn't mean it isn't possible to have a timetable for it.

Isn't it true that American advisers are not allowed into the ministries you control?

Yes, it is forbidden, and it is prohibited for anyone to deal with them. Otherwise he will be disobedient to God and I will have no relation with him.

Can you tell us something about yourself personally? Married? Children?

I am married; I have no children. I was 25 when my father was assassinated. If he were alive, the U.S. would never have been able to come to Iraq.


Blogger Hype said...

This is sooo serious. The chickenhawks don't realize that kicking the bee hive is not smart. We have the technology to kill the bee hive but not before we are stung all over and possibly dead.


May 03, 2006 7:05 pm  

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