Wednesday, November 05, 2003

MUQTADA AL-STREET THUG: Juan Cole translates an article from last Sunday's al-Zaman, an Iraqi newspaper, after I tipped him off via e-mail.

The prominent Shiite Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr called upon the American troops in his country to spare lives, and called them to unity and brotherhood with the Iraqi people. He affrimed that "Saddam Hussein and his followers are the enemies of Iraq, not the Americans." In a statement distributed in Najaf, excerpts of which were published in the newspaper al-Sabah [Saturday], he characterized the presence of US troops in Iraq as "that of guests", and described the Americans as a "peace-loving people." He described Saddam as a "sinful aggressor." He said, "The Iraqi people want only good for the Americans, and there is no enemy of Iraq except Saddam and his followers."
Sadr's popularity is driven by three his populist rhetoric against the U.S. occupation, personal charisma and his father's legacy. Maybe it's a sign that Sadr's influence and power may be tapering off. Maybe not.

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