Sadr calls for end to hostilities

translation by Juan Cole:

' In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

"They plot, and God plots, and God is the best of plotters." God, the exalted, the great, has spoken truly.

To the Army of the Mahdi, the Office of the Speaking, Fighting Center of Religious Learning, and to the followers of the martyred Sayyid [Sadiq] al-Sadr, and all Muslims:

We formerly requested the withrdrawal of the American forces of occupation from our country, and the erection of an Islamic state. But after the iniquitous attack on us on the part of the American Zionist forces of occupation, we recently asked for the release of Shaikh Mustafa al-Ya`qubi and the reopening of our newspaper, which speaks out, they replied to us with gunfire and the response of rabble. Many of our sons and brothers, Sunni and Shiite, have been martyred. But it has also reached us that a rebellious faction has infiltrated your ranks and deliberately attempted to fan the flames of turmoil, committing plunder and looting of governmental offices that offer services, and of the stalls of money changers. They closed the doors of the universities and seminaries in such a way as to distort the image of Islam and of Muslims, and of the Army of the Mahdi. We do not fear the forces of the infidel American army or the communiques of Bremer and Kimmit. After the intervention of a number of learned clerics and Iraqi personalities and tribal notables, we have decided (we, the office of the martyered Sayyid al-Sadr), to halt the military operations and gatherings, and to stop the disturbance of secure citizens, to halt the attacks on their honor, and to apprehend these rebellious elements and to surrender them to the office of the speaking, fighting religious Center.

We continue to demand the release of all those imprisoned, and the reopening of our newspaper. We urge that action be confined to peaceful retreats after the Friday prayers on 19 Safar 1425, in the Kufa Mosque only.

All believing brethren in all the provinces must prepare to fulfill their religious duties through this sit-in, and to prevent enemies of Islam from infiltrating their ranks.

Muqtada al-Sadr
17 Safar 1425 '

UPDATE: via Brian Ulrich, looks like there may be negotiations between the CPA and Sadr. Bremer however seems to be dead-set against it - probably because (as Atrios notes) the Administration has a "terrorist" mindset when dealing with Sadr rather than an "opposition army" (the military does call Sadr's militia "ACF" or Anti-Coalition Forces). Professor Juan Cole points out how arbitrary the hard line on Sadr has been, given that there have been plenty of other militias that the Coalition and CPA have actively embraced and invited to take part.

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