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Iraqi Shiites Want U.S. Out, Threaten Resistance

A number of Shiite religious leaders pressed the U.S.-led occupation forces to withdraw now that ousted president Saddam Hussein has been captured, warning of armed resistance if they fail to do so.

Mortada Ga'afar El-Mousawy, representative of Shiite leader Moktada Al-Sadr in Baghdad, threatened that "armed resistance is, no doubt, the answer if the invading troops do not respect the will of the Iraqi people and leave our homeland."
Demonstration in Baghdad against the killing of a Shiite scholar by a U.S. tank
Demonstration in Baghdad against the killing of a Shiite scholar by a U.S. tank
An Iraqi holds a poster during a demonstration in Baghdad against the killing of a Shiite scholar by a U.S. tank (AFP)
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Iraqi Shiites Want U.S. Out, Threaten Resistance

By Aws Al-Sharqy, IOL Correspondent

BAGHDAD, December 18 (IslamOnline.net) - A number of Shiite religious leaders pressed the U.S.-led occupation forces to withdraw now that ousted president Saddam Hussein has been captured, warning of armed resistance if they fail to do so.

"Given Saddam's capture, Iraqi national and religious powers should close ranks and unite in calling the occupation forces to get out," Mortada Ga'afar El-Mousawy, representative of Shiite leader Moktada Al-Sadr in Baghdad, told IslamOnline.net.

"Those making gains from the status quo must not sell to the Iraqi people the culture of accepting the occupation and collaborating with occupation authorities," he said.

"They must stop hinting that Shiites support the occupation troops in Iraq, because Shiites took the lead in the 1920 revolution against the British occupation," Mousawy stressed.

He threatened that "armed resistance is, no doubt, the answer if the invading troops do not respect the will of the Iraqi people and leave our homeland."

Healing Rifts

Shiite scholar Mohamed Ali Al-Muzafar echoed similar position asserting that Shiites were skeptical that Saddam might jump again to power.

"Now that he is in custody, the page of his regime is closed for ever. Hence, Iraqis should forget past differences and ask the Interim Governing Council for swift elections to draft a constitution and drive the occupiers out."

Speaking to IOL, he underlined that Shiites were never in favor of the occupation and only adopted a wait-and-see approach until security and stability are restored.

This, said the Shiite scholar, was only "meant to text the real intentions of the occupiers whether they came to liberate Iraq and hand over power to the Iraqi people.

"After the capture of Saddam we demand the occupation forces to leave and transfer power to the Iraqis."

Muzafar threatened the U.S.-led occupation forces of die-hard resistance unless they pull out of the country.

"The Americans should realize that our silence to the occupation was a temporary thing dictated by the circumstances. If they insist on staying in Iraq and refuse to hand over the power to Iraqis, the Shiites' reaction will be different, as was the case with the British occupation in the early 20th century, Shiites will have a different position.

Moussa Al-Kerbassy, a leading Shiite scholar, exhorted Iraqi religious leaders to use their leverage and help Iraqis heal their rifts.

He called on the Governing Council to give the Iraqi people a saying in choosing their leader and government, urging Iraqis who attack police and state facilities to stop such operations.

Shame

Iraqi political analyst Hussein Mohamed Ali expected, for his part, armed resistance against the occupation to be "affected after Saddam's capture, [operations carried out by] the Baath party."

Other groups involved in resisting the U.S.-led occupation will pursue their operations because their operate with the religious conviction that occupation is a shame that must be eliminated, he told IOL.

"Most of these groups believe that the only way to drive out the U.S. troops is through force," he said, recalling several explosions and attacks that followed the capture of Saddam.

He argued that the withdrawal of the U.S. forces before maintaining security and stability "may drag the country into a whirlpool of problems and conflicts the Governing Council will not be able to control.

"Iraq will not taste stability until a constitution is ratified and a new government is elected by the Iraqi people."

The U.S. army announced Sunday, December 14, the capture of Saddam during an operation near his hometown of Tikrit a day earlier.

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