POWERFUL SHIITE LEADER AL-SADR IN INTERVIEW
"THERE WILL BE NO JUSTICE UNDER OCCUPATION"
Shiite religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr was once regarded by the US Pentagon as one of the most dangerous men in Iraq. An early attempt to stifle his power, by shutting down his newspaper and arresting his followers, lead to an explosion of violence against American troops.
Now he is rarely referred to by any US officials, despite the fact that Al-Sadr was a key player in getting the current Iraq prime minister into power. The US knows now they have to leave him alone if they want any chance at reducing the violence of the insurgency.
Al-Sadr was interviewed recently by Newsweek. You can read the full interview here.
Some excerpts from that interview :
Al-Sadr : At the beginning, I think (the US) didn't have complete information about me, and the clergy in Iraq. Time elapsed; things became clear and resulted in the Sadr trend – a powerful, loyal, political and military force. It will have impact locally and internationally. And I hope that it will take Iraq to safety. At the same time, I reach out my hand [to the political parties] to cooperate to make peace in Iraq, to drive away the shadow of the armies of darkness. The occupation is the creator of all problems...
Q : What in your view changed on the Iraqi political scene that led to an increasingly important role for you and your followers?
A: There were three stages: the peaceful resistance, like speeches and demonstrations; the military resistance, which was represented by two uprisings all over Iraq, and the political resistance, which we attained by reaching political posts and demanding a timetable for the departure of U.S troops.
Q: You've become part of the political establishment now. Have you changed your views on how to bring about change?
A: Every Iraqi is part of the political process. Everyone builds his Iraq the way he sees fit. The most important issue is the timetable for the U.S. withdrawal. Politics is working to achieve justice. 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, including for the American people. 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? If there is someone who feels safe, it's only [U.S. President George W.] Bush, but the American people are suffering due to the floundering, reckless policy of their president.
He finished the interview by stating that Iraqis want to live in peace, and live in Islam, without being drawn on whether he wanted to see Sharia (Islamic law) introduced across Iraq.