18 Stories

Al-Sadr Tells Iraqi Militias to Stop Attacking US Troops

Because he wants troops to leave Iraq on time

(Newser) - Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his followers to stop attacking US troops—to make sure they get out of Iraq on time. “Out of my desire to complete Iraq’s independence … I am obliged to halt military operations of the honest Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal... More »

Biden in Iraq to Talk Troop Withdrawal

Sadr faction wants them out on schedule in December

(Newser) - Joe Biden arrived in Iraq for a one-day visit today, and the top topic for discussion, behind closed doors anyway, was expected to be the US’ December troop withdrawal deadline, an official tells the AP . In front of closed doors, Biden merely reiterated the US' friendship with Iraq. “The... More »

In Secret Talks, Iran Forged Deal for Pro-Tehran Iraq

It brokered the coalition between Nouri Al-Maliki, Muqtada al-Sadr

(Newser) - Iran was behind the recently struck deal between Nouri al-Maliki and Muqtada al-Sadr, and the result could be an Iraqi government friendly to Tehran and distanced from the West, the Guardian reports. According to the paper's sources, Syria, Hezbollah, and top Shia religious leaders were involved with a secret campaign... More »

Iraq Elections Revive Anti-US Sadr Party

Followers of radical cleric poised to challenge Maliki

(Newser) - As Iraq sorts out the messy results of last week's elections, an unexpected winner is coming to light: The populist party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, long since given up for dead, suddenly emerged as the second largest Shiite block, and its strong performance is sure to shake up the... More »

US Freed Iraqi Insurgent for Brit Hostage

Iranian involvement suspected in Moore's abduction

(Newser) - Yesterday's release of British hostage Peter Moore two years after he was kidnapped in Iraq was secured by the transfer of an Iraqi Shia insurgent leader with strong ties to Iran. Qais al-Khazali—suspected of planning an attack that killed five US soldiers—has been shifted from US to Iraqi... More »

Iraq Militias Kill Gays With Impunity

Government's unwillingness to protect gays points to a bleak future for all Iraqis

(Newser) - Iraq's militias have switched from slaughtering rivals to killing men they suspect of being homosexuals, and the Iraqi government is turning a blind eye, Rasha Moumneh writes in Foreign Policy. Gay men have been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in rising numbers since the start of this year, but not a... More »

Iraqi Shiites Ditch Maliki in New Coalition

Group favors a government more closely allied with Iran

(Newser) - Iraq’s major Shiite parties have formed a new coalition without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or his Dawa Party, they announced today. That means that unless Maliki finds new allies, he will likely lose his job following the January elections. If the new coalition wins a majority, he’ll be... More »

Maliki Charts Post-Sectarian Politics in Iraq

Shiite PM teams with secular Sunnis and even militant cleric

(Newser) - The Shiite party of PM Nouri al-Maliki has allied itself with Sunni political figures and even Moqtada al-Sadr, a major departure from earlier politics that followed ethnic and sectarian lines. writes Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post. All support a strong central government and advocate a united Iraq over a... More »

Fisticuffs Over Security Deal End Session of Iraqi Parliament

Sadr ally allegedly shoves speaker

(Newser) - Discussion of the security deal between the US and Iraq deteriorated into a shouting match between members of the Iraqi parliament today, the New York Times reports. Parliament is scheduled to vote on the measure next week, but could not get through a reading of the agreement today before an... More »

Leaving Iraq, Petraeus Sees Gains as Fragile

Violence is down, but 'it's not durable yet,' says general

(Newser) - David Petraeus is leaving Iraq after 18 months, and by all measures the country is far safer than when he arrived. The "surge" of 30,000 extra American soldiers was bolstered by major domestic developments, from the Muqtada al-Sadr ceasefire to the rise of Sunni awakening councils. But in... More »

Sadr Cultivates Respect, Image to Reflect Power

Militia chief moves toward mainstream, hones clerical chops

(Newser) - Muqtada al-Sadr aims to shed his reputation as a dim-witted thug and become a respected Iraqi cleric like his father, the Washington Post reports, and has even spent the past year studying in Iran. Sadr, then nicknamed "Muqtada Atari" for his love of video games, was 25 when the... More »

Sadr Threatens to End Truce

Mahdi Army leader, 'worried' for Iraqis' safety, cancels anti-US protest

(Newser) - Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr today threatened to end the cease-fire he imposed last year on his Mahdi militia, CNN reports, and called off a massive protest set for tomorrow, the fifth anniversary of the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Hundreds had converged on Baghdad—despite orders to keep young... More »

Iraqi PM: No Elections for Militias

Mahdi Army must disband, Maliki says, or lose political power

(Newser) - Muqtada al-Sadr and his loyalists will be banned from upcoming elections if the Mahdi Army doesn't disband, Nouri al-Maliki said today, in his toughest rhetoric yet against the popular cleric. Sadrists say the Iraqi PM has no constitutional power to make that threat, but even if lawmakers succeed in banning... More »

1,000 Iraqis Deserted Basra Battle

Officers and men fled or balked as government battled militias

(Newser) - Desertions from Iraqi forces during last week's Basra battles have raised fresh doubts about the effectiveness of the country's US-trained security forces, the New York Times reports. Over 1,000 soldiers and policemen—including dozens of officers—either deserted or refused to fight. The US has linked American troop withdrawals... More »

Iraqi Assault on Basra Was 'Thrown Together'

Americans taken aback by Maliki's hasty, improvised raid

(Newser) - American officials were expecting a gradual, methodical operation when Nouri al-Maliki moved Iraqi troops into Basra to restore order in the city. What they witnessed instead was a rush job: an Iraqi raid that had little forethought and began even before the last of the soldiers had arrived. "He... More »

Iraqi Lawmakers to Meet as Violence Escalates

Baghdad under curfew as militants in Basra hold their ground

(Newser) - Iraqi lawmakers will hold an emergency session in Baghdad tomorrow to try to find a way to resolve the escalating violence in Basra and the capital, Reuters reports. Baghdad, its Green Zone rocked by steady rocket and mortar fire, is now under a three-day curfew, and the State Department ordered... More »

Sadrists Resist Crackdown, Demand Maliki's Ouster

Intra-Shiite battle pounds on in Basra

(Newser) - Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr marched in Baghdad today, denouncing Nouri al-Maliki's US-backed government as non-representative, while the onslaught in Basra continued for a third day. Explosions were heard in the city every 10 to 15 minutes and more than 100 are already dead, Reuters reports. Residents of Iraq's second-largest city,... More »

Sadr Extends Ceasefire 6 Months

Rumors confirmed as cleric calls on Mahdi Army to freeze activities

(Newser) - Muqtada al-Sadr has extended the ceasefire of his Mahdi Army by six months, writes the Wall Street Journal, confirming yesterday's rumors from US officials. At midday prayers across Iraq imams read out the announcement of the Shiite cleric, who had been under pressure from some of his followers to allow... More »

18 Stories