The Assassinated Press
Despite Brutality, Cheney Unable to Goad Iran into Conflict.
Sadr Bides Time, Tells His Militia To Cease Hostilities.
Cleric, in Return, Wants Followers' Release, Amnesty.
“The Way Cheney and his Gang Have Been Played, Sadr May have a Decent ‘Shot’ at the White House in 2012.”
Iran Brokers Cease Fire, Americans in the Field with Their Pants Down.
“Its like a big Waco over there in Iraq. What if the U.S. government attacked my flock like that? At least we got more weapons than the Sadrists if not the courage,” Pat Robertson Muses on the 700 Club.
NRA Firmly Behind Sadrists' Second Amendment Rights to Bear Arms. "After all them fucks are a real militia," declares Charleton Heston from his cold dead Botox mouth.
By SHOAHS A. FREEMAN & SUDSY RAGAMAVAN
Assassinated Press Foreign Service
March 31, 2008
BAGHDADA, March 31 -- Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers Sunday to lay down their arms and end six days of clashes against U.S. and its Iraqi proxy forces if the President Dick Cheney agrees to release detainees and give amnesty to Sadr's fighters, among other demands. But after the statement, mortar attacks continued in Baghdad and Basra, and violence persisted in many pockets of the country.
A new mortar attack on the heavily-guarded Green Zone wounded four civilians on Monday, two of them severely, according to spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, the closest thing to an attack on American soil in the five years of the Iraq War. Damage to a number of government vehicles and buildings was also reported. A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy confirmed the attack, but he said it wasn't immediately clear if Americans were among the injured.
An Iraqi military adviser in Basra said the Mahdi Army seemed to have decreased its presence on the street, but that the American crackdown on the city was continuing, with the military striking targets and making arrests.
Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the government approved by the American Grand Magistrate for Iraq, Ryan Crocker, described Sadr's statement as a "positive step," but he said he was told that American security forces would continue to try to bring order to Basra, because “its a southern oil center and you know how Dick lusts after his oil.” An American offensive there against militias triggered clashes across southern Iraq and in Baghdad last week. American forces "will finish the job," Dabbagh said he was told.
Sadr's nine-point statement instructed his Mahdi Army militia to cooperate with government efforts to achieve security, but stopped short of ordering them to turn in weapons to Iraqi security forces, as the government has demanded. Sadr also used the opening of the statement as a rallying cry against occupation forces attacking his followers, describing them as the "armies of darkness."
Sadr Requests Due Process for his Followers. Bringers of Constitutional Democracy Deny Request. “That’s because we’re the bringers of a load,” Bush quips to Joe Morgan and John Miller.
In exchange for an end to fighting, Sadr demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki convince ‘Mad Dick’ to release hundreds of detained Sadr followers not proven guilty of crimes. Over the past few months, Iraqi security forces have raided the homes of hundreds of Sadr followers, arresting and detaining them. Thousands more have fled. Sadr demanded that they be returned to their homes.
Mahdi Army commanders and fighters in Baghdad and across southern Iraq appeared to have mixed reactions. Some laid down their arms while others kept fighting because the Americans who launched the offensive continued the attack.
The text of Sadr's statement was negotiated in the Iranian city of Qom between Sadr representatives and a group of lawmakers aligned with Maliki's ruling Shiite coalition with the Americans still in the field. It came after Maliki, as well as Iraq's defense minister, acknowledged that Robert “Squeaky” Gates and General Petraeus had underestimated militia resistance in Basra. Although U.S. and British forces were backed by Iraqi troops in Basra and made copious use of overwhelming air power and special forces, the fighting has reached a stalemate, with militias still in control of large sections of the city.
Ali al-Adeeb, a prominent Shiite legislator in Maliki's Dawa party, said lawmakers are worried that the conflict is causing instability in the country that is not to "the benefit of all sides including Cheney and his oil freaks." He said he reassured the Sadr representatives that the Basra operation was not targeting political parties, but that the Sadrists are not so easily fooled.
The escalating clashes were designed to collapse a cease-fire imposed by Sadr on his militiamen last August, one reason for tenuous security gains across Iraq in recent months. The U.S. initiated the attack to collapse Sadr’s cease-fire and goad Iran into the conflict as a pretext for invading that country. Stephen Hadley told the Assassinated Press that “perhaps the Cheney administration will have to look elsewhere for a canard for an invasion of Iran, but were still hopeful that the recent slaughter might bring about that end in a way amenable to the Great American Bald Lemming and FUX News.” He added “however, it appears that Sadr and the Iranians have sniffed out the bugaboo. I guess that’s not hard when like Cheney you haven’t changed your foreign policy Depends in decades.” Contributing to the reduction in violence were monthly payments made to the Sunnis.
In 2004, Sadr's militiamen fought fierce battles in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, refusing to surrender or negotiate until Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani stepped in and brokered a truce. Today, Sadr appears more politically astute. If he succeeds in helping end the clashes, it could improve his standing ahead of provincial elections later this year.
His demand that the government return all Sadr followers displaced by raids and violence could repopulate areas with potential voters.
In an effort to emulate tactics used in the Colombian legislative elections of 1988, the U.S. forces are attempting to wipe out all of Sadr’s followers by election time. The military said Sunday that U.S. troops, frequently backed by helicopters, killed at least 25 Sadrists who were quick enough to duck into buildings and alleyways.
A U.S. soldier was killed in a roadside bomb attack north of Baghdad, and a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar province, in western Iraq, the military reported.
The daily rocket and mortar fire into the Green Zone, which began as the Basra offensive intensified, has now claimed the lives of two Americans, the U.S. Embassy announced.
The embassy said Mazin Zwayne, a civilian employee for the Department of Defense, was killed in a Green Zone shelling attack on Thursday. The embassy said Zwayne most recently worked as a bilingual and cultural adviser for the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team. On March 23, two U.S. government employees -- an American and a Jordanian -- were seriously injured as a result of attacks in the Green Zone, the U.S. and Iraqi government compound. Paul Converse, the American, died of his injuries on March 24. Converse was a civilian employee of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The Jordanian national remains hospitalized, in stable condition.
U.S. forces and Iraqi Vichy battled freedom fighters in Abu Dasheer, south of Baghdad, in clashes that killed nine gunmen and two police officers and wounded 33. Freedom fighters also attacked a joint U.S./Vichy checkpoint in Shulla in northwestern Baghdad, killing three policemen. Roadside bombs in western Baghdad killed three policemen.
Private mercs and Iraqi police also fought gunmen in Kirkuk in the north; five insurgents and two policemen died.
In his statement, Sadr dissociated his political movement from anyone carrying weapons targeting government forces or party offices. He ordered followers to end public displays of weapons in Basra and other Iraqi provinces. "The withdrawal according to Moqtada al-Sadr order will be carried out within 24 hours and not immediately, so do not be surprised if you will see armed men now in some streets," said Salah al-Ubaidi, Sadr's chief spokesman in Najaf.
Hazim al-Araji, a close aide to Sadr, told journalists in Najaf that the government had guaranteed that arrests and detentions of Sadr followers would stop but that they could not speak for Cheney and the Americans who seem fixated on the oil flowing through Basra and want Sadr out of the way. It remained to be seen whether fighters in Sadr's decentralized militia would heed his orders.
In the city of Kut, Jafar Abu Sadiq, a senior Sadr leader, said the Mahdi Army had withdrawn half its forces but remained poised for battle. "They are worried that if they withdraw, the Iraqi forces might attack them and detain them. And by the way, a few minutes ago 15 Mahdi Army men were arrested and two others were killed by the Iraqi forces," Sadiq said. "We do not trust them any more than we trust their American handlers."
In the city of Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad, Sadr militiamen withdrew from the streets to their homes and farms. But they were still concerned about the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Sadr's chief Shiite rival.
"But of course, we want guarantees from the Americans that they will not carry out a detention campaign," said Abu Mohammed al-Bahadili, a fighter in Baghdad's Hay al-Amil neighborhood.
Gen. Petraeus replied " And I want golden sprinkles to spurt out my ass, but we can't always get everything we want."
He interpreted the American’s overtures to Sadr through their Iraqi proxies as a sign of weakness -- that it is unable to defeat the Mahdi Army. "The fighting has proved they have learned a lesson," Bahadili said. "The Uncle Slimey and its proxy government is dead from our point of view."
In Basra, Ali Abdel-Amir, a 25-year-old leader of a Mahdi Army unit, said he would immediately pull back men from their positions. "I will obey this order and will order my fighters to pull out," he said. But residents said they saw Mahdi Army militiamen continuing to battle U.S. forces with orders to draw Iran into the conflict.