Monday, March 24, 2008

Sadrist-organized Sunni-Shia conference in Baghdad demands US withdrawal

This is about a meeting that took place in the NW Baghdad district of Kadhamiya. Voices of Iraq says the meeting, organized by the Sadr organization, included 300 tribal leaders, Shia and Sunni, from throughout Iraq, but the meeting also dealt with local issues including a promised re-opening of the "Bridge of the Imams" that links this mainly Shiite neighborhood on the west bank of the Euphrates with its twin district Adhamiya, mainly Sunni, on the east bank. (There is a nice satellite map on the website of the Meeting Resistance film, which was mostly filmed in Adhamiya.) Among the main points in the final statement of the meeting: A demand for scheduled withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq; and a statement to the effect the foreign forces are responsible for the internal divisions that have plagued Iraq since the invasion.

Statements to VOI by participants indicated that there had been considerable groundwork for this meeting, including reciprocal visits between Shiite and Sunni tribal leaders. Moreover, it looks as if the organizers of this consider this more than just an isolated or local reconciliation event, because VOI leads its story like this:
The first Iraqi tribal conference wound up its proceedings on Sunday, in Kadhamiya, Baghdad, with the issuance of a final statement that demanded a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, and commitment to the return of those removed from their homes, and compensation for their damages.
The journalist doesn't mention future plans that would explain the expression "the first Iraqi tribal conference".

Among the other points mentioned in the declaration:
The participants committed to the rejection of terror in all its forms, and to the combating of the AlQaeda organization throughout Iraq, in addition to serious work toward the return of those displaced...
(VOI hasn't yet posted an English language version of this item, but presumably in due course it will).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for finding and posting this important news, Badger. Maybe there is a chance Iraqis will prevail against the occupation sooner rather than later.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Thanks for making use of the satellite image: Molly's particularly proud of it after working so hard to nail down all the places we used to spend so much time.

This is important news, even if a long time coming. Toward the end of our time shooting the film, we met members of the Mahdi Army who had crossed the bridge from Khadamiya to fight alongside the men of Adhamiya against US troops.

We always knew that if that military coalition ever translated into a political front, the days of the occupation - both American and Iranian - would be numbered. After the hammering the Mahdi Army took in the summer of '04, there followed a bombing campaign - mostly directed at the Sadrists - and, when that failed, we saw the attack on the Askariya shrine (a Mahdi-ist symbol).

It may have taken four years but I think what you're reporting here is the natural political manifestation of that ragged coalition of fighters we saw back in April of 2004.

4:06 PM  
Blogger badger said...

god willing...

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:23 PM  
Blogger badger said...

you got it

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

Inshallah you are right, Steve! But at this point nothing makes me truly optimistic.

On another note, I have always said that the main reason Sadr is such a huge threat to the Americans is that he is a nationalist who is opposed to all foreign intervention, and has an agenda of returning to a united Iraq. That is in stark contrast to the collaborationist/sectarian separatists who are currently what is referred to as the Iraqi government.

And isn't it ironic that the Americans are helping Iran's best Iraqi clients to defeat the opposition.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Binh said...

I found this blog thanks to a link from Lenin's Tomb, and I'll be referring to what I find here regularly on my own blog.

It's great news but there have been a number of such joint efforts in the past which have come to naught for one reason or another.

One of the major things keeping the two sides apart at this point is the river of blood that separates them. From what I've read, a lot of Sunni groups have written of the Mahdi after the slaughter they were involved in (against Sadr's will no doubt) in 2006. Some of them just cannot forgive the movement as a whole for the acts of individual members/units, while others diss the Sadrists as being "Iranians" or Iranian-controlled/Iranian-sympathetic.

The best case scenario would be if the Awakening tribes linked up with the Sadrists and Fadhila in a political with the demands outlined here. Another area of common interest betweent the Sunni tribes and the Sadrists is opposing federalism.

I wonder what the Sunnis will do now that there's a civil war brewing among the Shia...

9:55 AM  

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