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Mahdi Army

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NEWS
January 1, 2006 | By Nancy A. Youssef INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
Muqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric who just a year ago encouraged his followers to kill U.S. soldiers, has successfully transformed his ragtag followers into a political force that could dramatically reshape the next National Assembly. Preliminary results show Sadr supporters holding as many as 31 seats in the 275-seat assembly, a number that would make Sadrists the largest single group in Iraq's first permanent, democratically elected parliament. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq could release official results as early as this week.
NEWS
July 19, 2004 | By Tom Lasseter INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
From directing traffic to organizing blood drives, the militia overseen by firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is taking control of Baghdad's largest neighborhood even as Iraqi and U.S. officials demand that the group disband. Sadr's office, not the beleaguered police station, is often the first stop for residents of the Sadr City neighborhood who want to report a crime in the teeming slum of three million people. Mahdi Army militiamen compete with the U.S. military to clean up trash.
NEWS
July 2, 2008 | By Trudy Rubin
Whenever I am trying to get a glimpse of what's happening at street level in Baghdad, I call my friend Abbas. He is a driver and businessman, and a member of a large Shiite clan from a Baghdad neighborhood called Hay Salaam. A man of wide girth and robust laugh, he comes from a family in which Shiites have intermarried with Sunnis. He is shrewd and tough, with a sharp sense of humor that has survived events Americans can't even imagine. His uncle was hanged by Saddam Hussein, and a close relative was killed by militiamen after Hussein fell.
NEWS
June 15, 2007 | By Trudy Rubin
It is eerie to look down at Baghdad from the open door of a U.S. military helicopter when the city is under a total curfew. At 9 a.m., the streets and highways are entirely empty; the shops, and factories, and city squares, deserted. It's a relief to see two ladies in long black abayas strolling down a small street. Three days of government-imposed curfew are one way to prevent revenge killings after a bomb destroyed the minarets of one of the holiest Shiite shrines. But is there any way to break the cycle of violence once the curfew ends?
NEWS
March 21, 2010 | By Trudy Rubin
Dear Prime Minister Maliki: I'm writing you at a time when the outcome of Iraq's election is still uncertain. Your political bloc may get a plurality of votes - or not. Even if you win the most parliamentary seats, you will have to struggle to form a governing coalition, which may take months. But it's not too early for you (or any other leader who seeks your job) to respond to this question: What kind of Iraq do you want? An Iraq in which Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds are at each other's throats?
NEWS
May 29, 2004 | By Hannah Allam INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
A truce reached Thursday between U.S. forces and a rebel Shiite cleric broke down yesterday in a hail of gunfire. In front of the Kufa Mosque, young militiamen furiously loaded mortars into launchers aimed at American soldiers. A stricken father stood over the fly-covered corpse of his son, and a young woman described her hopes of becoming a suicide bomber as the truce between the U.S.-led coalition and Muqtada al-Sadr disintegrated in its first hours. By the end of the day, at least five Iraqis had been killed and two U.S. soldiers were wounded in clashes.
NEWS
May 3, 2006 | By Nancy A. Youssef INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
The firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is working behind the scenes to maintain his armed wing and portray it as a social movement, a step that would make him one of Iraq's most powerful figures if it succeeds, U.S. officials and Iraqi politicians say. American officials say Sadr, who already controls the largest bloc of votes in the National Assembly, is modeling himself after Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim movement born...
NEWS
October 9, 2006 | Daily News wire services
The U.S.-led coalition said it killed 30 fighters in a battle yesterday with the country's most powerful Shiite militia amid growing American impatience with the Iraqi government's inability to stop militias responsible for escalating sectarian violence. The clash was the second with the Mahdi Army in the predominantly Shiite southern city of Diwaniyah in as many months. Officials from the party of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which heads the militia, denied that any of their fighters had been killed.
NEWS
August 12, 2004 | By Tom Lasseter INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
U.S. Marines in the holy city of Najaf yesterday postponed a major offensive but promised action that would "finish" the militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In a written statement from his Najaf offices, Sadr exhorted his Mahdi Army to "go on in your jihad" and "continue fighting even if you see me captured or martyred, and Allah will make you victorious. " The battle was expected to begin yesterday, but the military said it was taking extra time to prepare. The Washington Post reported in today's editions that military planners were vexed by intelligence reports that Sadr's militiamen had rigged explosives in Najaf's Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most sacred sites in the Shiite branch of Islam.
NEWS
November 20, 2011 | By Trudy Rubin, Inquirer Columnist
LARNACA, Cyprus - Salam Hamrani is safe - for now. My Iraqi fixer and friend endured two years in a Baghdad jail. His crime: helping American troops nab Shiite militants who were killing his Sunni neighbors. He was finally freed and escaped with his family to Greek Cyprus. Our reunion in Larnaca was emotional and full of laughter. But Salam's story is a sad tale of U.S. failures and betrayals in Iraq. A Shiite whose uncle was hanged by Saddam Hussein, Salam was thrilled when U.S. troops ousted the dictator.
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NEWS
February 26, 2016 | By Trudy Rubin, Columnist
Why would anyone in the Middle East want to ally with the United States? There are many reasons to ask this question, but here's one I find especially disturbing: how the United States lets down thousands of Afghans and Iraqis whose lives are at risk because they have worked with Americans. For this "sin," they and their relatives are now being threatened with death. I have written of the long delays in issuing special visas for Iraqi and Afghan translators who worked with U.S. military and civilian officials.
NEWS
March 18, 2012
Iraqi militia frees American citizen BAGHDAD - Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops. The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre news conference outside the Green Zone, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz. Speaking in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.
NEWS
November 20, 2011 | By Trudy Rubin, Inquirer Columnist
LARNACA, Cyprus - Salam Hamrani is safe - for now. My Iraqi fixer and friend endured two years in a Baghdad jail. His crime: helping American troops nab Shiite militants who were killing his Sunni neighbors. He was finally freed and escaped with his family to Greek Cyprus. Our reunion in Larnaca was emotional and full of laughter. But Salam's story is a sad tale of U.S. failures and betrayals in Iraq. A Shiite whose uncle was hanged by Saddam Hussein, Salam was thrilled when U.S. troops ousted the dictator.
NEWS
August 16, 2011 | By Patrick Kerkstra, Guest Columnist
When was the last time you spared a thought - any thought, good or ill - for the war in Iraq? It isn't actually over, the war, though it is easy to forget that, given the paucity of U.S. news coverage. Insurgents struck three Iraqi cities only yesterday, killing at least 60 in what analysts think was an attempt to ratchet up the terror level as the U.S. and Iraqi governments discuss a continued American presence in the country past 2011. That's right: Odds are that U.S. troops will still be in Iraq in 2012, two years after the ballyhooed 2010 withdrawal of the last combat brigade.
NEWS
April 10, 2011 | By Bushra Juhi, Associated Press
BAGHDAD - A powerful anti-American Shiite cleric threatened Saturday to reactivate his feared militia if American soldiers remain in Iraq beyond this year, after a U.S. offer to keep troops on if they are needed. Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers on the eighth anniversary of Saddam Hussein's ouster that stopped just short of calling for violent action against U.S. forces. He accused "the occupation" of inciting panic, corruption, and unrest among Iraqis. His statement was read aloud at a protest of tens of thousands in Baghdad's Mawal Square, near Sadr's stronghold in an eastern Baghdad slum.
NEWS
March 21, 2010 | By Trudy Rubin
Dear Prime Minister Maliki: I'm writing you at a time when the outcome of Iraq's election is still uncertain. Your political bloc may get a plurality of votes - or not. Even if you win the most parliamentary seats, you will have to struggle to form a governing coalition, which may take months. But it's not too early for you (or any other leader who seeks your job) to respond to this question: What kind of Iraq do you want? An Iraq in which Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds are at each other's throats?
NEWS
December 17, 2008 | By Trudy Rubin
As soon as I arrived here, I went to visit the neighborhood of Hay Salaam, my bellwether as to the city's condition and prospects. What I saw was tremendously heartening. But my visit also revealed the question marks that dog Iraq's future as U.S. combat troops prepare to pull back from cities no later than June 30. This middle-class enclave had a Shiite majority and a sizable Sunni minority who got along before Iraq sank into sectarian strife in early 2006. As al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)
NEWS
July 2, 2008 | By Trudy Rubin
Whenever I am trying to get a glimpse of what's happening at street level in Baghdad, I call my friend Abbas. He is a driver and businessman, and a member of a large Shiite clan from a Baghdad neighborhood called Hay Salaam. A man of wide girth and robust laugh, he comes from a family in which Shiites have intermarried with Sunnis. He is shrewd and tough, with a sharp sense of humor that has survived events Americans can't even imagine. His uncle was hanged by Saddam Hussein, and a close relative was killed by militiamen after Hussein fell.
NEWS
April 25, 2008 | Daily News wire services
A plus for al-Maliki BAGHDAD - Iraq's largest Sunni bloc has agreed to return to Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki's Cabinet after a nearly yearlong boycott, several Sunni leaders said yesterday. They cited a new amnesty law and the government's crackdown on Shiite militias for the move. The Sunni leaders said they were working out the details of their return, an indication the deal could fall through. But such a return would represent a major political victory for al-Maliki in the midst of a military operation that has at times been criticized as poorly planned and fraught with risk.
NEWS
April 24, 2008 | Daily News wire services
A top American general yesterday urged radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to rein in his fighters as a U.S. soldier was killed in a gunbattle in a militia stronghold in Baghdad. Two bombings struck the northern city of Mosul within 30 minutes, killing four people and wounding 12 amid concerns that al Qaeda in Iraq is regrouping. Also yesterday, the Pentagon announced that President Bush is promoting his top Iraq commander, Army Gen. David Petraeus, and replacing him with the general's recent deputy, keeping the U.S. on its war course and handing the next president a pair of combat-tested commanders who have relentlessly defended Bush's strategies.
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