Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Muqtada to Replace Pavarotti? The Mahdi Singing Choir? Selling Girl Scout Cookies? The Sadr Wonders Never Cease!

Iraq's Mahdi Army may become cultural

"Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has suggested a possible transformation of his al-Mahdi Army into a cultural and humanitarian organization.

"There is no conflict between the military nature of al-Mahdi Army and its being humanitarian and cultural. Different circumstances need different duties and requirements," The Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency quoted al-Sadr as saying.

He reiterated that the move to suspend the activities of al-Mahdi Army was an opportunity to rehabilitate and reform the group.

The remarks were made after a group of his followers put forward a proposal for a referendum on transforming the militia into a political or cultural group, VOI said.
Moqtada al-Sadr suspended the activities of his militia in August, ushering in a ceasefire with US and Iraqi forces for six months, which was extended in February for another six months.

Meanwhile, Sadr aids said on Monday that he has no intention of quitting Iraqi politics despite the widespread perception.

Sadr has "not ceased his contact with us and he remains in control of strategic decisions," the head of the movement's political bureau, Liwa Sumaysim, told AFP.

This came after Moqtada al-Sadr, who has not been seen in public for months, issued an unusual statement on Friday explaining his absence to his followers and admitting splits in his movement."

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