Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sadr office warns Maliki over Karbala investigation; Aides say 6-month Mahdi Army suspension to foil U.S. plot to divide Shiites

Above: Boys light candles for the victims of violence this week in the holy city of Karbala.

Iraqi government orders investigation into deadly clashes in Karbala

Iraq's prime minister ordered an investigation Sunday into last week's deadly clashes in Karbala only hours after anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the government to investigate the violence, which many have blamed on his own Mahdi Army militia...

Security officials said the violence in Karbala started when members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army confronted mosque guards affiliated with the Badr Organization, allied with the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq. More than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured.

The Badr group has also called for an investigation, and a statement from al-Maliki's office said an investigative committee would perform its duties "neutrally and professionally without being biased to any side."

No specific time frame for the investigation was given, but the statement said it would be concluded "as soon as possible."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

Sadr office warns Iraq govt over Kerbala probe

Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's office on Sunday demanded the Iraqi government conduct a fair investigation into clashes in the city of Kerbala last week, warning of unspecified "decisions" if it did not.

The comments raise questions about the powerful movement's commitment to an order from Sadr to suspend armed action by his feared Mehdi Army militia for up to six months in the wake of the violence...

"We are trying our best to save the blood of Muslims to stem the strife," said the statement from Sadr's office.

"We warn the Iraqi government ... that if they do not make a fair, neutral and fast investigation the Sadr office will have to take decisions beyond the government's expectations."

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

Militia freeze said meant to avert Shiite rift, but uncertainty persists on move's real aims

Muqtada al-Sadr's surprise decision to stand down his Mahdi Army for at least six months was designed to stop a Shiite-Shiite rift from spiraling out of control and to weed out infiltrators in his militia's ranks, according to two top aides of the radical Shiite cleric...

Sheik Salman al-Feraiji, al-Sadr's chief representative in Baghdad's Sadr City district, said the freeze on Mahdi Army activities was meant to foil what he termed an "American plot" to sow division within Iraq's majority Shiites.

"They drove a wedge between Shiites and Sunnis and now they want a Shiite-Shiite rift," al-Feraiji said as he sat late Saturday in a large tent to receive condolences for the Karbala victims. The tent was erected outside al-Sadr office...

Al-Obeidi said the freeze would allow time to rid the Mahdi Army of "groups working for foreign security agencies." He did not elaborate.

"These groups deliberately left traces that led back to the Mahdi Army. We do not want what happened in Karbala to spread to the rest of the country," he said.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

Related Link:
Analysis: Behind the struggle for Karbala

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Sadr Aide: 'The halt can be revoked at any time'

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Report: Followers of Iraq's Sadr lay low, follow orders

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Reports: Al-Sadr suspends Mahdi Army militia activity

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Reports: At least 27 killed, 100 wounded in Karbala festival violence; Curfew imposed; 1 million pilgrims ordered to leave

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3 killed, 13 wounded as police fire on pilgrims during clashes in Karbala