Thursday, April 24, 2008

Al-Sadr may restart full-scale fight against US in Iraq

Go to AP original
BAGHDAD - Muqtada al-Sadr is considering setting aside his political ambitions and restarting a full-scale fight against U.S.-led forces — a worrisome shift that may reflect Iranian influence on the young cleric and could open the way for a shadow state protected by his powerful Mahdi Army.

A possible breakaway path — described to The Associated Press by Shiite lawmakers and politicians — would represent the ultimate backlash to the Iraqi government's pressure on al-Sadr to renounce and disband his Shiite militia.

By snubbing the give-and-take of politics, al-Sadr would have a freer hand to carve out a kind of parallel state with its own militia and social services along the lines of Hezbollah in Lebanon, a Shiite group founded with Iran's help in the 1980s.

It also would carry potentially disastrous security implications as the Pentagon trims its troops strength and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally shows progress on national reconciliation.


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