"I repeat my demand to the occupier to leave our land without keeping bases or signing agreements," Mr. Sadr said in a statement read to thousands of supporters at Friday Prayer. "If they keep bases, then I would support honorable resistance."
Tension is rising here over the agreement as the vote nears, even if few oppose it to the extremes of Mr. Sadr and his followers. An aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, also indicatied that he would intervene in some way if the draft did not enjoy the full support of the Iraqi people. But Ayatollah Sistani, who far outranks Mr. Sadr, has consistently advocated nonviolence.
The above is from Campbell Robertson and Suada al-Salhy's "Militan Shiite Cleric Calls for Armed Resistance to U.S. Presence in Iraq" from this morning's New York Times (A5, includes a large photo credited to AP's Khalid Mohammed of the Friday Prayer when the statement from Moqtada al-Sadr was read). We noted the statements of al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani in yesterday's snapshot. Nidaa Bakhsh (Bloomberg News) cites press chatter that tomorrow's vote will support the treaty.
John Howard was the prime minister of Australia until Kevin Rudd replaced him. Howard was very tight with the White House and rivaled UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for the title of White House lapdog. Howard was on board with the illegal war and now that he is out of office, the Australian press is attempting to evaluate and investigate his leadership. From "No evidence justifying sending troops to Iraq: former ADF chief" (Australia's ABC):
Former prime minister John Howard has told ABC1's The Howard Years program that the decision to send troops was the most difficult he made.
While the claims that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction turned out to be wrong, Mr Howard says he does not believe that he took the country to war based on a lie.
But former Admiral Chris Barrie, who retired as ADF chief in July 2002, has told the same program he did not see compelling evidence for the war which was launched the following year.
"I have to say, even up until the day I retired, I never saw any evidence that said suddenly we had to go off and do a job in Iraq," he said.
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