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Friday, November 17, 2006

All fall down


(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Who does he work for?

Iraq Issues Arrest Warrant for a Prominent Sunni Cleric


By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: November 17, 2006

BAGHDAD, Nov. 16 — The government issued an arrest warrant late Thursday for Sheik Harith al-Dhari, one of Iraq’s most prominent Sunni Arab clerics, on charges of inciting terrorism and violence, officials said.

Mr. Dhari, head of the influential Muslim Scholars Association, has been an outspoken critic of the foreign military presence in Iraq and has said he approves of the armed resistance in the absence of a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. This stance has won him support among hard-line Sunni Arabs and respect among the rebels, and news of the arrest warrant raised concerns among many Iraqis that it could further inspire the insurgency.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani announced the warrant on state-run television, saying, “The government’s policy is that anyone who tries to spread division and strife between the Iraqi people will be chased by our security agencies.”

Mr. Dhari regularly travels throughout the Middle East and could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Association, condemned the warrant on Al Jazeera television. “I don’t know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other,” he said.

Rampant sectarian violence and growing acrimony between political leaders have pushed Iraq to the brink of all-out civil war.

On Thursday, President Jalal Talabani called for an emergency meeting of Iraq’s political leaders, portraying it as an effort to stave off the complete collapse of the government, an official in the presidency said Thursday.
But it gets better

Convoy of civilians hijacked in Iraq

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The
Pentagon said a convoy of civilians traveling near Nasiriyah was hijacked on Thursday, while earlier in the day the Shiite-led Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for the top leader of the country's Sunni minority. The move was certain to inflame already raging sectarian violence.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said preliminary reports suggested there could be as many as 14 people captured and that the convoy included about 19 vehicles.

An official familiar with the incident said preliminary reports being checked by the military indicated that the attack occurred at a checkpoint near Nasiriyah and that four Americans were believed to have been taken captive.

The official, who requested anonymity because of the security situation in
Iraq, said it appears that some of the convoy drivers had been released, and were being interviewed by the military. He said initial reports suggest that the attack occurred at a checkpoint in a location where normally there is no blockade.

The convoy was being operated by the Crescent Security Group. The company works mostly in Iraq, and its operations are based in Kuwait.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, a Shiite, announced Thursday on state television that Harith al-Dhari was wanted for inciting terrorism and violence among the Iraqi people.

Al-Dhari, head of the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, is an extreme hard-liner who recently mocked a government offer of reconciliation in return for abandoning the insurgency. But the move against him threatens to drive many moderate Sunnis out of the political system.

posted by Steve @ 12:20:00 AM

12:20:00 AM

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