Al Sadr's Shi'ite Bloc Withdraws From Iraqi Government Over U.S. Occupation

16 de abril de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Al Sadr's Shi'ite Bloc Withdraws From Iraqi Government Over U.S. Occupation</h1><p>April 16 (EIRNS)--Iraqi Shiitle leader, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered the six ministersa from his political party to withdraw from the government, on grounds that Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki had ignored mass demands for a timetable for withdrawal of occupying troops. Al-Sadr's group is the largest in the government coalition, (with 32 Members of Parliament) but the government still maintains a majority, with the support of Kurdish and other Shi'ite blocs.</p><p>The announcement was made by Nassar al-Rubaie from Sadr's movement, who read a statement from al-Sadr to the press. "The six ministries shall be handed over to the government itself in the hope that this government will give these responsibilities to independent bodies who wish to serve the interest of the people and the country," it said. "The main reasons are the prime minister's lack of response to the demands of nearly one million people in Najaf asking for the withdrawal of US forces and the deterioration in security and services," he said. This was a reference to a huge rally organized by al-Sadr in Najaf, on April 9, the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein's government. The 8-kilometer-long march gathered a million people, according to Iranian sources, though the US claims it was about 15,000. On that day, the US had, in fact, imposed curfews in Baghdad and other cities for fear of bigger demos everywhere. The demonstrators demanded an end to the occupation.</p><p>Al-Maliki tried to put on a good face, saying the resignation of six ministers would contribute to his cabinet reshuffle, and bring in "efficient ministers." He also reiterated his rejection of a premature withdrawal of US troops. "The issue of the withdrawal of multinational forces depends on the readiness of our armed forces to take charge of security in all provinces," he said. (It came exactly as Cheney was making the same point in Washington.)</p><p>One question raised by this development, is the role of Shi'ite supreme leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whom al-Sadr looks to as his mentor. Al-Sistani, based in Najaf, has consistently supported the Iraqi government, solely on grounds that it could call for the end of the occupation. He has repeatedly insisted this be done. Another feature of the situation is that the popular demand to end the occupation, expressed in the April 9 protests, is not a sectarian move--though only Sadr's Shiite bloc has left the government. Reports from Najaf, and film footage shown on European and regional television, shows that this was a mass, national demonstration, with no sectarian flags, symbols or slogans. Sunnis and others were participating en masse.</p></div></body>