Saturday, July 07, 2007

Reports: Maliki calls for new political alliance; Says Sadr movement infiltrated by 'Saddamists, Baathists and gangs'; Demands Mahdi army disarm

Above: Maliki and Sadr at a press conference late last year. Six Sadrist cabinet ministers quit Maliki's cabinet in April over his refusal to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Sadr's parliamentary bloc is boycotting the legislature in protest of the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra last month. The main Sunni Arab bloc is also boycotting cabinet and parliament meetings over what it says is unfair treatment of its members. A Maliki aide said this week the prime minister would shrink his cabinet to improve the government's performance amid frustration at its failure to deliver on security and political reform.

Iraqi PM invites politicians to join new bloc

Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday called on political groups to join a proposed new alliance that would cut across sectarian lines and support his embattled government.

"This front is open to all those who agree with us over the necessity of improving the performance of the government, its (institutions) and in facing the threats against it," Maliki told a news conference.

His remarks follow reports in recent weeks that the ruling Shi'ite Alliance and two big Kurdish parties, which together hold a majority in parliament, planned to form an alliance in the wake of defections from the government by some politicians.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

Al-Maliki says that Baathists have infiltrated al-Sadr movement

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the movement of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has been infiltrated by Baathists and gangs in one of his harshest criticism of the group that helped him come to power.

Al-Maliki demanded Sadrist leaders take "decisive and clear" action to ensure they are not blamed for acts of violence carried out in their group's name...

"These are people who have joined the Sadrist movement to take it as a cover and they are Saddamists, Baathists and gangs for theft and looting. They are taking advantage of the name," al-Maliki said after a meeting with President Jalal Talabani.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

Iraq's Maliki demands Sadr fighters lay down arms

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded Saturday that militants claiming loyalty to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army lay down their arms, in an unusually strongly-worded statement...

"We have heard statements from officials in the Sadr movement that they are against using arms and that they condemn those who hold weapons," the prime minister said, according to a statement from his office.

"This puts us in front of a fact we must face courageously: If those are Sadrists, then Sadrist leaders disavow clearly those who carry guns"...

The statement came as fighting continued between Mahdi Army elements and Iraqi forces in the southern city of Diwaniyah and after a night of fierce clashes with British forces in Basra, which left one soldier dead.

Read the rest at Yahoo News

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