Sunni Group Allies Itself With Sadr
Sunday, 18, April, 2004 (28, Safar, 1425)
Naseer Al-Nahr, Arab News -
BAGHDAD, 18 April 2004 - A Sunni group yesterday made common cause with
fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr as captors of a US soldier demanded the
release of fighters being held by US-led forces in Iraq in exchange for
Mohamed Ayash Al-Kubaisi, representative of the Muslim Clerics
Association, told Al-Arabiya television that all Iraqis resisting the
US-led occupation were working toward the same goal, including Sadr.
"We support him (Sadr) and he supports us in this resistance. We are in
one boat and are responsible for protecting this boat," Kubaisi said,
adding his group has issued fatwas for ending the occupation.
"Iraqis are aware that it's not in our interests to compete for
sectarian gains. The Shiite resistance... strengthens our will as we are
both fighting the same enemy."
Sadr's supporters in Najaf said mediation efforts with the US-led
coalition had failed and they feared American troops were poised to
"Mediations with the US side have been halted because the mediators have
told us the Americans are putting obstacles toward finding solutions to
the crisis and the situation is getting worse," Qais Al-Khazaali, the
head of Sadr's office told reporters in Najaf.
"We are expecting the Americans to attack Najaf any moment now," he
In mostly Sunni Fallujah, a leading American official, Richard Jones,
joined week-old peace talks with city leaders, senior US spokesman Dan
Senor told a news conference.
"We are hopeful about their intentions," he said. "Our overriding
question is can they deliver and, if so, can they do so expeditiously?
Time is running out."
One resident in the city of 300,000 told a reporter: "For the first time
in days, Fallujah is completely calm."
US Marines launched a crackdown in the city on April 5 after the
gruesome killings of four American private security guards, ambushed in
the town the previous week. Some 600 residents, including women and
children, were killed in the US attack.
US officials want their killers brought to justice and the disarming of
an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 fighters in the town.
Kidnappers freed two Japanese hostages here, a day after the captured US
soldier was paraded in footage on an Arab television channel. The two
Japanese, Jumpei Yasuda and Nobutaka Watanabe, were unshaven and looked
tired but in good health as they were handed over to Japanese diplomats
at Baghdad's Umm Al-Qura Mosque.
The captors of US Private Keith Maupin, seized after an attack on a road
convoy west of Baghdad last week, released a videotape Friday that
showed him surrounded by masked gunmen.
Maupin, one of two missing US soldiers, identified himself in a soft
voice on the videotape.
On the political front, the European Union said a new UN resolution
could get the bloc involved in Iraq, despite the bitter opposition of
some of its members to the US-led war.
EU foreign ministers, at a two-day meeting in Tullamore, Ireland, called
for the United Nations to take a pivotal role in running Iraq when the
coalition hands over power to an interim administration at the end of
"We are agreed that a strong UN role is an essential element for the
political transition process," Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen told a
news conference after the talks.