moqtada al-sadr tells the u.s. to leave iraq

moqtada al-sadr tells the u.s. to leave iraq

From correspondents in Najaf

December 04, 2007 04:31am

RADICAL Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr overnight blasted US President George W. Bush for signing a deal with Baghdad that ensures a long-term American military presence in Iraq. “I say this to the evil Bush – leave my country,” Sadr said in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

“We do not need you and your army of darkness,” he said.

“We don’t need your planes and tanks. We don’t need your policy and your interference. We don’t want your democracy and fake freedom. Get out of our land.”

Sadr’s salvo comes a week after the US president and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced a deal ensuring a long-term presence of US forces in the country.

Mr Bush and Mr Maliki decided to end the UN mandate for foreign troops’ presence in Iraq in 2008 and replace it with a bilateral pact between the two countries for an American military presence beyond 2008.

Sadr, known for his anti-American stance, also criticised the other top Shiite parties in Iraq, Mr Maliki’s Dawa and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC).

“Where is Dawa? Where are the brothers of Badr?” he asked, referring to the SIIC militia.

“Iraqi parliament and the government … you must demand that the occupant leave. Today the Sadrists are oppressed and by our brothers as well as the occupant,” the cleric said.

Sadr’s political bloc recently walked out of the governing Shiite alliance because of differences with the coalition partners.

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