Particularly in the wake of Iran’s facing no apparent consequences for its abduction of the British sailors and marines, al-Sadr may be convinced that the U.S., along with the West in general, does not have the will to inflict any lasting damage on him or his movement. It is still a gamble on al-Sadr’s part, however, and may yet be a catastrophic miscalculation.
“Al-Sadr calls for attacks on U.S. troops,” by Saad Abdul Kadir for Associated Press:
BAGHDAD – The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday.
The statement, stamped with al-Sadr’s official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday “” a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
“You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don’t walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy,” the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.
In the statement, al-Sadr “” who commands an enormous following among Iraq’s majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government “” also encouraged his followers to attack only American forces, not fellow Iraqis.
“God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them “” not against the sons of Iraq,” the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. “You have to protect and build Iraq.”