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Al-Sadr Tells Iraqi Ministers, Lawmakers To End Boycott January 16, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.

BAGHDAD (AP)–Iraqi cabinet ministers and legislators loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were instructed to end their six-week boycott of the political process, a parliamentarian in the political bloc said Tuesday.

The decision to return could be related to a major security plan for Baghdad in which thousands of Iraqi and U.S. troops are expected to do neighborhood-to-neighborhood search to clear the city of Sunni Muslim insurgents and local militias such as al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The Mahdi Army has been blamed for much of the sectarian bloodshed over the past year.

“We might be subjected to an attack and we should try solve the problem politically. We should not give a chance for a military strike against us,” said the legislator.

“The approval came last night from Najaf for the Sadrists to return to the political process, the government and parliament,” said the legislator. Al-Sadr lives in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers south of Baghdad.

The lawmaker said the group’s return was conditional, including demands that the government set up a committee to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a second that would set a date by which Iraqi forces were to take control of security nationwide.

The demands would give the government one month to put such a measure before parliament.

Until the walkout, the al-Sadr faction was an integral part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s governing coalition. Six Cabinet ministers and 30 legislators who belong to the movement called the boycott after al-Maliki met with U.S. President George W. Bush in Jordan in late November.


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