Gulf News

Al Sadr allies threaten to quit over PM’s statement

ANGRY DUE TO LACK OF SUPPORT FOR US PULLOUT TIMETABLE

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Iraqi Cabinet ministers allied to radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr threatened yesterday to quit the government to protest the prime minister's lack of support for a timetable for US withdrawal, according to a statement.

Such a pullout by the very bloc that put Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki in office could collapse his already perilously weak government. The threat comes two months into a US effort to pacify Baghdad in order to give Al Maliki’s government room to function. Al Sadr’s political committee issued the statement a day after Al Maliki rejected an immediate US troop withdrawal.

Later in the day, the head of Al Sadr’s bloc in parliament, Nassar Al Rubaie, said that US troops had taken over Al Sadr’s office in the city of Diwaniyah, the scene of weekend clashes between US and Iraqi troops and Al Sadr’s militiamen. “We say that this matter is very dangerous and we put the blame on the Iraqi government for the American destructio­n of the country,” he said. “We have thought before that sovereignt­y in Iraq is incomplete, but now we say that sovereignt­y doesn’t exist in Iraq,” Al Rubaie said.

Iran-made weapons

The US military, meanwhile, put more weapons on display in Baghdad yesterday that it said were made in Iran, adding that training in the use of lethal roadside bombs had taken place in Iran as recently as the past month.

US military spokesman Major-General William Caldwell said the weapons, which included mortar rounds and rocket propelled grenades, had been found at a house and in a car in Baghdad’s Jihad district this week.

The United States accuses Tehran of trying to destabilis­e Iraq and says Iranianmad­e weapons are increasing­ly being used in attacks on US troops in Iraq. Iran denies the accusation­s.

“The death and violence in Iraq are bad enough without this outside interferen­ce. Iran and all of Iraq's neighbours really need to respect Iraq's sovereignt­y," Caldwell told a news conference.

He said training was taking place in Iran in how to use explosivel­y formed projectile­s (EFPs), a particular­ly lethal roadside bomb that has killed a large number of US soldiers since 2004 and which can destroy a battle tank.

"We know they are being manufactur­ed and smuggled in to this country and we know that training does go on in Iran for people to learn how to assemble them and how to employ them, Caldwell said.

 ?? Reuters ?? Residents make their way along a flooded road in Baghdad's Sadr City yesterday. Al Sadr allies have criticised the government's handling of the Baghdad crackdown, which the movement has previously said it supports, and complained about a lack of basic...
Reuters Residents make their way along a flooded road in Baghdad's Sadr City yesterday. Al Sadr allies have criticised the government's handling of the Baghdad crackdown, which the movement has previously said it supports, and complained about a lack of basic...

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