Adnan Selawi, who heads Sadr's office in Amarah, the capital of Maysan province, told the Reuters news agency that the cleric's followers in the city had hoped the crackdown would be professional. "But unfortunately we found many breaches and violations," he said, accusing security forces of harassing civilians, random shootings and beatings.
Another Sadr representative, however, told The Times that the cleric's populist movement would continue to cooperate with the security forces.
"There are orders from his eminence Muqtada Sadr to not react," said the official, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons. "No one will object to the authority of the state or the army."
The above is from Haydar al-Alak and Alexandra Zavis' "Iraq crackdown in Amarah continues; harassment alleged" (Los Angeles Times) and the Gulf Daily News reports on reactions to the treaty the White House is trying to press on the puppet government in Baghdad:
An Iraqi Shi'ite cleric yesterday denounced as "eternal slavery" a proposed security deal between Baghdad and Washington that outlines the long-term military presence of American forces in the country.
"The pact would be an eternal slavery for Iraq. It is against the constitution," said Shaikh Asad Al Nasri, a member of the movement led by radical anti-American cleric Moqtada Al Sadr.
"The government has no right to sign the pact which has been rejected by every political party," he told worshippers at prayer in the holy town of Kufa, adding that the no Iraqi would be able to agree to it.
US President George W Bush and Iraqi premier Nuri Al Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.
From Mohammed A Salih's "'Breakthrough' in Iraq pact" (Asia Times):
But critics allege the agreement with Iraq is far broader than any SOFA deal ever signed and borders on a treaty, which under the US constitution requires congressional approval. The Republican-led White House is fiercely opposed to involving legislators in the process, fearing its Democratic rivals may not agree with the provisions of the pact favored by the Bush administration.
The two countries have also agreed to negotiate a "Strategic Framework", which will regulate bilateral relations in the areas of politics, economics and culture.
Faced with stiff domestic opposition, the Iraqi government has run into great difficulty trying to sell the deals to the public.
Opinions in Iraq on the SOFA pact are diverse and in some cases deeply divided. While some reject it on nationalistic or religious grounds or both, others support a deal but want a clear timetable for eventual withdrawal of US troops to avoid an "open-ended occupation".
AP reports on Ed Blacke who states "he lost his job after warning workers they were being exposed to a cancer-causing chemical there" -- sodium dichromate -- and quotes him telling Congress' Democratic Policy Committee, "In my mind, it was criminally negligent of [KBR] to make a decision to continue to expose personnel to sodium dichromate poisoning."
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