Sadr ’snubs’ Najaf delegation

The emissaries from Iraq’s national conference travelled from Baghdad in the hope of coaxing the cleric to have his militia vacate Shiite Islam’s holiest shrine.

A Sadr aide said the cleric was not able to enter the shrine area to meet the delegates because the road was insecure due to “aggression by the Americans”.

The peace delegation led by Sadr relative Hussein al-Sadr was instead received by two of Sadr’s deputies who later said that “the encounter was positive”.

Al-Sadr said that he was assured by Sadr’s aides that the cleric did not reject their initiative. He said: “We hope there will be better circumstances to meet with him.”

Hussein al-Sadr stressed that the delegation had no powers to broker a deal.

“This is not a negotiation. This is a friendly mission to convey the message of the national conference,” he said at a US base in Najaf after flying down from the capital.

Shortly before the delegation’s arrival at the mausoleum, at least two US warplanes screeched through the skies over the city.

For the first time since fighting erupted nearly two weeks ago between Sadr’s Mehdi Army and US-led Iraqi forces, snipers took up position around the shrine.

The other seven members of the delegation include Anwar Ajil al-Yawer, a first cousin and brother-in-law of President Ghazi al-Yawar, and Akeel Abdul Karim Saffar of the prime minister’s Iraqi National Accord.

Two women were also in the group, including Rajaa Habib al-Khuzai, a former member of the now-disbanded interim Governing Council.

Yawar is the only Sunni among the eight. All the rest are Shi’ite.

The delegation flew in on US Black Hawk helicopters from a meeting in Baghdad where 1,300 delegates sought to select an interim national assembly to oversee the government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Heated debates over Najaf and selecting members to the assembly have dominated the unprecedented gathering in Baghdad, a step on Iraq’s road to democracy.

Posted in 上海性息网