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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Shia Iraq violence: Your reaction
A follower of Moqtada Sadr holds the helmet of a US soldier during clashes in Najaf
The Iraqi government negotiator has confirmed that talks to disarm militants in the Shia holy city of Najaf have broken down.

Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie said he was going to leave the city, where fighters loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr have been resisting US-led forces.

Mr Rubaie said the government would resume military operations against the militants thus ending the uneasy truce.

A spokesman for Moqtada Sadr has blamed the Iraqi prime minister for the talks' failure.

What is your reaction to the violence in Najaf and other cities across Shia Iraq? Have you witnessed the fighting?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

I think it is clear that Sadr and his men will never be able to tolerate a free, stable and democratic Iraq. The coalition has to crush them once and for all. Assistance has been requested and either we allow Sadr to continuously sue for ceasefires, replenish forces and arms and then return to his criminal activities or we take his organisation out by the roots. The marines are capable of this task and it is vital for the stable future of Iraq.
Finn, London

The problem here lies in the fact that most of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq joined the forces to get a trade, a job skill, and see some of the world. They have suddenly found themselves hiding behind walls with live ammunition zipping past their ears and mortars etc. going off all around them. They are in no way prepared for this. They are faced with a force that truly believes in what it's fighting for and is proud to die for that cause. It's a no win situation for the U.S. who have yet to learn that you cannot win a war with firepower and a gung ho attitude alone.
James Zurek, Seattle, USA

It is unfortunate that there are thousands of people willing to blindly follow Moqtada, and despite the destruction, violence and misery this brings. These followers of Moqtada do have a very real alternative to violent confrontation. That alternative is to join the rest of the Iraqis in rebuilding and rehabilitation of the country. The opportunities are there, and more will come once the violence stops. Foreign companies, massive investment and know-how are at the door step of the country, and what's keeping them from coming in are Moqtada and the rest of the so-called resistance. The challenge for the Iraqi government is to convince Iraqis of this.
Lateef, Iraqi in Dublin

Moqtada Al-Sadr might not represent the majority of Iraqis but his background is much healthier and honourable than the USA. His father and two brothers were assassinated by Saddam because they opposed him like heroes. On the other hand USA/UK supported the Iraqi dictator in the 80s then applied inhumane bombing and sanctions on us in the 90s so it is very rich of them to claim that they want to benefit us. Who do you think you are fooling?
Y.Ubaidi, Iraqi/Swansea, UK

Where are our (UK) politicians at this time of major uprising? There are running in battles in at least five major cities, at least two under UK military occupation, and our prime minister is on holiday. I have heard nothing from any of the opposition parties or even the antiwar groups about this massive offensive against densely populated cities, with the inevitable heavy loss of civilian life.
Ralph Williams, Cambridge UK

Moqtada Al-Sadr must accept the rules of democracy if he wants to get any legitimacy
François, France
Moqtada Al-Sadr must accept the rules of democracy if he wants to get any legitimacy. He apparently doesn't have the support of the population in Najaf. However, the US/government forces should think twice before starting a fight in a holy and populated place. It maybe better to contain the insurgents while trying to get better results elsewhere, at the Iraqi national assembly and in the rest of the country. An all-out fight in Najaf could result in more enemies.
François, France

The coalition has come a long way from its stance on accusing Iraq of possessing WMDs to fighting a no-win civil war which will no doubt go one for decades. The US installed a puppet government to take the heat off the US leaders, however, an American dies daily. Iraq is much like the former Yugoslavia with various religions and languages.
Phil, Bruxelles, Belgium

Even if this conflict is to be resolved, what next? A puppet government has been installed, and at the moment it is hard to believe that even with the elections next year, the government is going to change much. Then, America will have control of the Iraqi resources, and Iraq will sink into a situation like Saudi Arabia, which created Bin Laden. Then, the West will have another group of "terrorists" in their hands.
Alvaro, London, UK

I do not pretend to know what the reality is on the ground in Iraq, however I do think it interesting that the majority of Iraqis on this board are anti-Sadr and a great deal of those outside of Iraq are for Sadr? Why is that? People outside of Iraq would do well to not let their hatred of the USA blind themselves to what Iraqis want. Your hatred of the USA is fine, that is your choice it does not harm me in the slightest, but your inability to put those feelings aside for the good of Iraqis is tragic and illogical.
Justin Brod, Midlothian, USA

Where were Moqtada Sadr and his so called Mahdi army when Saddam was in power? Iraq can only be governed by force according to their own history. Western style democracy in Iraq would only bring the likes of Moqtada Sadr to power and the Iraq of tomorrow could be even worse than the Iraq of yesterday.
Bara, Sudan

Moqtada Sadr's men may have committed some abuses, as his organization isn't particularly disciplined, but the fact remains that they are Iraqi citizens fighting a foreign army that has illegally occupied their country with brute force. In my view, the Bush administration doesn't care about democracy, only its own interests, and that of its corporate contributors. The only solution is for the US to keep its promises: allow free democratic elections to be held immediately, and leave Iraq.
Wassim, Dearborn, USA

Sadr is Iraqi, and all Iraqis have the right to fight what they see as American occupation of their country. That doesn't mean it is the best response at this time. I am highly suspicious of American intentions and fear their bungling mishandling of Iraq, but I fear Sadr is merely using the chaos for his own gain instead of thinking of the whole country. Najafis may not like the interim government but what are they going to do - fight the US by themselves? Try and split off from the rest of Iraq?
Nadeem Shaikh, London, UK

Give credit to him for knowing how to gain strength and power through manipulation.
Doc (US Soldier in UK)
Moqtada does not protect the Imam Ali mosque; in fact he is there because the mosque protects him. He is very wise in picking that location for the obvious reason that the coalition cannot enter without pause. Another wise choice was to tug on the emotional and religious heartstrings of the young men of Iraq. To them he is a martyr, a protector of Islam and a guarantor of freedom from U.S. occupation. Najaf would be another dot on the map without Moqtada; also meaning Moqtada would be just another Shia cleric ministering to the people of Iraq. Give credit to him for knowing how to gain strength and power through manipulation. No doubt he saw an advantageous opportunity to increase his control and followers by making the U.S. a scapegoat. The U.S. I believe has a lot to answer for at the end of the day, but this man is a wise and manipulative thug, but! a thug nonetheless. With the followers he controls through direct or indirect means, he is a person to fear now and in the future if his influence is added in the rebuilding of Iraq.
Doc (US Soldier in UK)

I am a Shia and I think Sadr is as wrong as the U.S. The Holy City of Najaf is too holy for this kind of fighting - both groups should quit Najaf. The fighting has nothing to do with Islam because Sadr does not have the authority, rather it is a power struggle. Sistani is the true leader of Najaf.
Sibthan, Birmingham, UK

As an Iraqi Sunni, I feel that Mr. Sadr is the only man out there in Iraq who is restoring Iraq's dignity and honor that was smothered by the invading forces. He's a true hero and leader.
Mohamed Hassan, Baghdad, Iraq

I don't want to see him survive so that he and his followers can wreak further havoc on the city and its residents.
Hassan al Najafi, Najaf, Iraq
I have witnessed some of the fighting in Najaf, and I can say that most al Medhi militiamen are from other areas in Iraq such as Amara, Kut, Nasiriya, Simawa, and Sader city in Baghdad. Many Najafis say Iranians are fighting along with Sadr and they are based in the old cemetery. Sadr must be dealt with as soon as possible. I don't want to see him survive so that he and his followers can wreak further havoc on the city and its residents. Read what some Iraqi webloggers have about the current situation in Najaf.
Hassan al Najafi, Najaf, Iraq

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Iraqis fighting against the American troops? Maybe this is a reaction to an original action. Let us review history to decide instead of reading biased reports.
Adam, Los Angeles

Well, I think the Iraqi Army and the US military should work hard to get rid of all the Al-Sadr radical militia rebels. These criminals are responsible of murdering and kidnapping hundreds if not thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens because they didn't agree with their ridiculous leader! These people get their funds through killing and ransoms. It is about time to put an end to these militants and kick them out of the country. If arrested, they should be tried or executed in public and let people see them.
Ziyad, Baghdad, Iraq

Sadr is going to figure in Iraq's future
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK
If the US wants a democracy in Iraq it has to swallow the fact that the Shia are the majority and we all know what that means in a democracy (at least in the accepted definition of the word). Sadr may not be the top cleric in Iraq but he speaks for a significant number of Shia: probably more than all the Sunnis put together and definitely more than all the Kurds. That means Sadr is going to figure in Iraq's future. Get used to the idea Bush.
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Moqtada Sadr and his forces need to stop fighting and rejoin society. Then, the Iraqi political process can proceed without violence. Iraq is a large, diverse country and requires a political solution that protects the rights of all. Certainly, America has made many mistakes in the country but the US is doing the right thing by helping the Iraqi government to end the anarchy inspired by Moqtada Sadr. It seems that a majority of Iraqis approve.
Steve, Anchorage, USA

Moqtada Sadr has a quite a large and wide supporter base. Bringing him into the political process might help the embryonic political set-up to grow into full democracy in Iraq. Quelling a rebellion militarily will not work, even for a short period, as the Iraqis see it as a fight for dignity and independence.
Bhanu, Pokra, Nepal

Sadr has no position in the Iraqi interim government though he is supported by many followers. The discrepancy between his power and his share in the temporary government is the cause of this turmoil. The Iraqi government and coalition troops should concede to some degree and make him contribute to rebuild a new Iraq.

The violence isn't helping anybody. More violence means more destruction for everybody, which only means it will take longer for Iraq to reconstruct itself.
Khalid Seirafi, Los Angeles, USA

Is this the election campaign? It is scary to think that Sadr could become the leader of the country. He exploits the situation in Iraq to increase his power while thousands of his impoverished followers die needlessly.
Abdul Sadek, Baghdad

We should never have got involved in this stupid situation. The most sensible thing would be to bring our troops home and let the Iraqis sort it out themselves.
David Cummings, Marlborough

It's amazing to read some of the comments posted by American people on this board. I'm sure you guys would have a whole host of "freedom fighters" spring into action if your country was illegally invaded, and would be outraged if the rest of the world called them terrorists and thugs. Go home and stay there!!
Reza, UK

Moqtada doesn't have the authority to issue religious decrees
Ali Abdul Majid, Najaf, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: I am writing to you from Najaf. Moqtada Sadr is trying to take full control of the city, as a stepping stone to expand his influence all over the Shia Islamic world. The 'Sadr Movement' men are armed gangs who have turned religious schools into training camps and arms storages. They have also instated tribunals ordering torture against civilians despite the fact that Moqtada doesn't have the authority to issue religious decrees according to Jaafari jurisprudence.
Ali Abdul Majid, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: American soldiers are terrorised. We can see fear on their faces.
Jabir Abou al Rous, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: What does Moqtada want? If it is power, he has the right to, but not through fighting. He can establish a party and run for local elections. We refuse to see him forced upon us by his armed gangs.  
Zayd, Najaf, Iraq

  From BBCArabic.com: The real patriots are the ones who fight American occupation. I don't agree with those who call Moqtada Sadr a terrorist.  
Nawfal Kamal Abbas, Najaf, Iraq

  From BBCArabic.com: The people of Najaf didn't resent Moqtada Sadr at first, but they soon realised he was following instructions coming from countries that probably didn't want to end up like Iraq. Moqtada started his latest move as soon as he came back from Iran. He proved to be inexperienced and lacking political shrewdness. I hope he will elude the traps that have been set for him .  
Iraqi, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: What exactly is the 'Sadr Movement'? Some would link it with the late Mohamad Sadek Al Sadr, while others identify it with his son Moqtada. None of this is true. This concept was instituted by the reformist Sheikh Mohammad Baker Al Sadr who served the nation and worked hard for its welfare. It was later highjacked by Moqtada and his followers.  
Abu Mohammad Ali Al-Najafi, Najaf, Iraq

Resistance and martyrdom are a duty
Ahmed Al Iraqi, Najaf, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: Can the ones who killed many Iraqis and forced an embargo upon us for more than ten years be considered liberators? How can they claim they are here to help us after they killed our loved ones? Resistance and martyrdom are thus a duty.
Ahmed Al Iraqi, Najaf, Iraq

  From BBCArabic.com: Every household in Iraq has lost one of its members to Saddam's dictatorship. Some were executed, other incarcerated or fled the country. Now Moqtada is finishing the job..
 Ali Al Deek, Najaf, Iraq

  From BBCArabic.com: I hold Moqtada and his men responsible for the destruction of the city of Najaf. They have nothing but contempt for this city and its people. Some of them are baathists or former members of Saddam's intelligence and security apparatuses.
 Mohammad Al Najafi, Najaf, Iraq

  Isn't it strange that those living in Iraq (via BBCArabic.com) condemn Moqtada Sadr and report that his "army" is killing far more Iraqi's than the US, yet Canadians & Belgians claim to know better what is going on in Najaf than Najaf's own residents!
Peter, Nottingham, UK

Is it not funny that the people who were murdered by Saddam, are the exact people who are at war with United States? Wasn't one of the main reasons United States invaded Iraq to help its people, and especial the Shias? And now the are fighting each other!
Otaki, Toronto, Canada

This is a difficult one
Phil, UK

This is a difficult one. When the shia rose up against Saddam they were heroes but when they do it against US occupation they are the villains. The problem at the moment is that until there are elections anyone with a gun (even the western forces) can say they speak for the Iraqi people. It will only be when elections take place that we will know for sure what the Iraqi's want. So why wait till next year?
Phil, UK

Nearly all my Iraqi friends want an end to Sadr's madness. The Iraqi government has done everything to accommodate him within the mainstream political process. It is now clear that he has other goals. Enough is enough.
Ghaly Shafik, Cairo, Egypt

One thing should be clear to the US forces: nobody is going to just roll over and surrender to them. The destruction of the city of Najaf and countless lives is too high a price to pay just to prove a point. The US must swallow their pride and start talking.
Mat, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Why does anyone who disagrees with the US get called a terrorist? Bush said you are either with us or against us. We the rest of the world should be able to decide for ourselves what we as a people want. To the many people who wrote, patriotism does not belong to any one country, just think if your own countries were being occupied, what would you do?
Stephen, Bahamas

The Americans should immediately leave the Holy City of Najaf and apologize to the Iraqi People for its misdeeds.
Mohsin Rupani, Mumbai India

What I'm reading makes it sounds like these fighters are just lining up to be killed. No armed group will defeat the USA in battle. They will destroyed without even seeing the enemy.
Robert, Canada

Face the facts, Iraq had nothing to do with 911, the US illegally invaded a sovereign country, installed a puppet government and set in place a "legal" control of their oil. Yet, we speak of democratizing them and calling any Iraqi who disagrees with our plan a terrorist. This is most ridiculous.
Laurie, Miami Beach, USA

The Mehdi Army fired 60mm mortar shells at my house
Amer, Najaf, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: I live in the area that witnessed the outbreak of fighting. The Mehdi Army fired 60mm mortar shells at my house. Maybe they thought my children were their master's enemy? How long will we be subjected to Moqtada's random shelling and false propositions? It is ironic that the United States will rid Iraq of Moqtada like it did Saddam. Maybe this is what they wanted after all?
Amer, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: Every day, I meet at work people from Sadr City. They say they suffer from the exactions of the Mehdi Army. Its gunmen fire mortars on residential areas (which they are not from) and then flee in their vehicles to escape US army fire. They don't care where their rockets land or whether civilians are hit. A few days ago I saw on television one of the militiamen wearing a watch with the effigy of Al Sadr, reminiscent of those issued under Saddam. From where do they get all this funding?
Mohamed, Baghdad, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: During the first clashes between Moqtada's militiamen before the power handover, I thought like many that they were a rag-tag army of outlaws and former Baathists. But now that I got closer to the frontline, I realised that the Mehdi Army is composed of teenagers and young men not older than 25. Most of them were never members of the Baath Party, nor bandits. Moqtada is leading them to their own demise, and to the destruction of Iraq. But also everyone else in power today - the Supreme Council Islamists, the liberals, the communists - share responsibility in the crimes taking place in Najaf, Basra, Emara, Nasiriyah and Al Thawra City. No one should ignore that the ones dying now in these cities are youngsters with their lives ahead of them. I plea to the whole world: Please don't kill them.
Alaa Mahdi Kadhum

Moqtada Sadr is the only patriotic voice representing Iraqis
Ahmed Kamel Abdallah, Najaf, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: Moqtada Sadr is the only patriotic voice representing Iraqis. It is wrong to say that he lacks experience. He is following his father's path, who was an experienced politician and a highly respected religious authority. The late Mohamad Sadek Al Sadr is thus a great source of inspiration as he was fully aware of the American threats in the region.
Ahmed Kamel Abdallah, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: To those who consider the Mehdi Army terrorists, I ask them: Do terrorists defend their faith to the extent of sacrificing their own lives? Did you forget what the occupying forces did to our men and women in Abu Ghraib prison and other prisons? If you did, the Mehdi Army and the other resistants never will.
Fawzy Al Ghazaly, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: I call on the whole world to come to Najaf to bear witness. The BBC should not call these people the Mehdi Army. They are unworthy of this holy name. They kill children because they shake hands with the American "infidels". How can they claim to be religious?
Benna, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: People here should know that all Najafis totally reject Moqtada Sadr. His militia's alleged defence of the city is just a cover-up for its members' reckless acts. They are desecrating the city's Holy Shrines and treat the local population exactly like Saddam's henchmen use to.
Jasim Al Zubaydi, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: I am an Iraqi living in the US and my relatives are clerics in Najaf. People there strive to be relieved from Moqtada and his men. They deprived us from the tranquillity we were hoping for after the fall of Saddam. Moqtada fights the US Army and poses as a national hero. So I ask him: where were you when Saddam was filling the mass graves? Don't you think we should be thankful to the American Army that liberated the people of Najaf?
Nawfal Al Jazay'ri, USA

I find it most interesting that Al-Jazeera, the Arabic television station has been conveniently closed for four weeks whilst the Americans prepare for a very 'Fallujah' like assault. Now the voices of the innocent dead will not be heard by the world as another Iraqi town is attacked.
Jason Dimmell, Ottawa Canada

There's no quick fix here
Maurice Achach, Nairobi, Kenya
Sometimes we should just accept reality however unpalatable it is. Democracy is a higher value that is best appreciated by a people whose primary needs have been fulfilled. There's no quick fix here: you cannot, in a year or so, ram secular democracy down the throats of people who are largely illiterate or semi-educated, hungry and insecure. Moqtada Sadr, knows that there are million kids out there (including outside Iraq) who have nothing left to lose and willing to go in a blaze of glory. That is ultimate freedom in its perverse best. Iraq's nationhood is at stake. It would be tragic for the rest of the world to abandon Iraq because "we told you so". America should be assisted to go through the long haul. The frontlines of terror are diffuse and everywhere. There's no honour gained in sitting and watching as the tiger devours others hoping that you'll be eaten last.
Maurice Achach, Nairobi, Kenya

I think it's most interesting that so many of the comments say how Sadr himself is not fighting, how he's using religion to further his true goal of becoming a more powerful player. Doesn't that remind anyone of someone? Like Bush 43? The guy who pranced about in a jet pilot's uniform - who said "Bring 'em on!" I doubt if Sadr represents more then a minority of Shia - but given the way the media (and the Bush Administration) warp coverage, probably few in the US will ever have opportunity to know what's real and what's not. The invasion itself was a mistake and based on a series of lies, the occupation was badly, recklessly bungled and as usual, it's the civilians, the poor, and the grunts who will suffer because of the reckless, arrogant, poisonous policies of Bush and others who seek to profit in some way from this mess - and it looks as though Sadr is one of those who seek to profit. But who created the situation in which such as him could thrive? Bush, Paul Bremer, et al.
S. Hogg, Oregon, US

Rumsfeld and his followers say that their war is going well as they kill hundreds of "insurgents", who are human beings with friends and families who will hate their killers and long for revenge. The old-world view that war will solve problems remains the greatest fallacy of history.
Owen O'Toole, California

Military strength is a tactical solution to this violence, but it's the Iraqi people who have to find the strategic solution
Bob Johnson, San Jose, CA, USA
My son has been in Iraq for the past 10 months and is part of the unit deployed near Najaf. In his last email communication this week, he expressed his frustration at the increase in violence due to Mehdi Army. At the same time, he is very angry that the Iraqi interim government is not taking enough steps to pro-actively negotiate or rein-in Al-Sadr. The Iraqi government has a lot more familiarity and leverage in controlling the situation than do the coalition troops. And today I hear about a possible full-fledged assault. While I pray for my son's safety and hope that this suppresses the current uprising, I am deeply concerned that if pro-active steps are not taken by Iraqis in power now, there is a high chance of violence erupting elsewhere by some other radical cleric and his followers down the road. Military strength is a tactical solution to this violence, but it's the Iraqi people who have to find the strategic solution.
Bob Johnson, San Jose, CA, USA

Sadr hides and sends children to die. That shows the world what this man is all about. He does not represent the Iraqi people but only his own greed and ambition.
Garrett, Manchester, UK

Can someone please tell Mr. Sadr how democracy works. If he has so many followers then he could have been elected to fight the system from within. What he is doing now is only hurting innocent civilians and damaging holy sites.
Ob, Canada

As a member of the UK military, I can honestly say that if it were UK forces in Najaf, the picture would be totally different. An inferior US Army that cares more about techno advances then training its men on the ground can never expect to win this kind of isometric warfare. They have neither the training nor the experience to deal with such battles. A full gung-ho attack on Najaf may result in hundreds of innocent dead, and still the problem will still be there. I believe it's time the US had a clear re-think on just how it trains its forces and how it implements this kind of operation; if not we'll all be here for a long time yet!
Craig Deyes, Hull UK

Sadr is a thug who is hiding behind religion
Mike Patterson, Middletown, Ohio USA
Sadr is a thug who is hiding behind religion. The only way to stop him is to kill him and his so called army. The world has seen many madmen like him and they always lose.
Mike Patterson, Middletown, Ohio USA

Sadr may be a "radical cleric" but he has my support for not standing idly by whilst Americans carve up his country's resources. So what if he is a nutter, it's only the nutters of the world who have the balls to fight. If Britain gets invaded I hope we have our fair share of nutters like Sadr, who will fight. Also, I don't think he is fighting for power, at the moment all he is doing is putting his life on the line.
Joe, London

At first it was Osama, then Saddam, now we have Moqtada and his followers. It looks like American foreign policy is doing its best to creating more terrorists, insurgents, militants, etc. Whatever we in the west choose call them, why not look into what the west is doing that makes these people go against us
Tony, London

Where is the glory in sending children to fight a war that can't be won.
Sean, USA
I would have more respect for Sadr and his insurrection if we weren't simply sending armed teenagers to their deaths. For every American casualty, dozens of Iraqis die. Where is the glory in sending children to fight a war that can't be won.
Sean, USA

Every freedom fight had the story of violence and non-violence. I could only compare Sadr with Subhash Chandra bose in Indian freedom struggle. What is really missing in Iraq is a person like Mahathma Gandhi.
Kunnummal, MI

Few people seem will to discuss the reason why he is fighting and making speeches. The US has refused to allow him to stand in elections and has essentially rules out any Muslim politicians standing for government. Essentially the US has disenfranchised 2/3 of the population!
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

The 'authorities' should keep to the truce, and let the ballot box decide the fate of Sadr. Or are the provisional government and the occupation afraid of something, are we going to see Sadr and various others 'charged', 'arrested' and 'exiled' in preparation for elections.
James Scobbie, Stirling

Iraq has become a battlefield for settling scores
Najaf Resident, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: I am a resident of Najaf. I saw outsider gunmen - some of them foreign - sneaking into the city. Their intention is to threaten its peace and security under the cover of the Mehdi Army. Iraq has become a battlefield for settling scores. Some claim Islam, and they couldn't be farther from it. There is also involvement by intelligence of neighbouring countries, and farther field.
Najaf Resident, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: I am from Najaf and I did see a number of Iranians fighting there. A friend of mine saw lots of Iranian weapons in the hands of Al Sadr followers.
Haidar Mohammed, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: Large scale arrests of Al Mahdi Army took place in the city of Al Samawa. This was to prevent an outbreak of violence in this city, 80 km from Al Najaf, after militiamen from Mahdi Army attacked an Iraqi patrol and burned two police cars, wounding several policemen. Early this morning, we heard explosions in the Japanese base near Samawa, probably by mortar shells.
Ahmed Al Samawi, Samawa, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: I am a resident of the city of Najaf. Iraqis are deliberately killed by the hands of other Iraqis in a conflict that marginalises the ordinary people. Presuming they were outlaws, are there thousands of outlaws out there? I don't think Iran is involved in all this, knowing that the Sadr movement was always at odds with the Iranian government. Iyad Allawi started a sedition that will not stop even if Moqtada Al Sadr and all his followers are killed in Najaf because the Sadr Movement is counted by the millions.
Abrar Al Moussawi, Al Najaf City, Iraq

I saw heart rending pictures of children given mortars instead of pencils and colouring books
Mariah, Baghdad, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: These murderers must be stopped. I saw heart rending pictures of children given mortars instead of pencils and colouring books. I was astounded why on earth they were wearing green headbands like the Iranian Revolution Guards use to wear during the eight year war between Iran and Iraq. Iranian influence should be curbed and those who follow its orders in Iraq must be prosecuted.
Mariah, Baghdad, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: I ask America and Europe and all those who advocate democracy, freedom and free speech, how can a country allow itself to invade another country, kill its people and loot its wealth. If they really wanted to uproot the Baathists or the Sadr Movement, they have at their disposal professional killers who can assassinate those without harming the innocents. Their policy is therefore: eradicate everyone.
Ali Al Ghawri, Al Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: When I saw Muktada Al-Sadr speaking about resisting occupation, I asked myself a question I think it reverberates in many Iraqi minds: Where was Al-Mahdi Army when the Shiites were oppressed by Saddam Hussein? Why is their "resistance" so erratic, quivering between truce and fighting? The Sadr Movement is deeply rooted in the Iraqi political and religious arena, and what we are witnessing now does not - in any way - represent this movement. It is a coalition of the forces of evil and ignorance to achieve material gains.
Zaidoon Salman - Iraqi in Dubai

I believe Sadr, along with Zarqawi will cease to exist in the near future. Others may come along, but the will be exterminated also. It is the Iraqis who will win in the long run, they will be free and able to choose how they want to turn their country. I also think Sadr and Zaqarwi got it twisted, the Americans soldiers are not the soviets, our economy and our military gives us the capability for us to press on.
Jalan, Concord, NC

It is amazing how so many people are treating Sadr as some kind of freedom fighter. The only freedom Sadr wants is the freedom to oppress his own people in an Iranian-like theocracy. All the while the US is working to build hospitals, schools, and giving the Iraqi people rights they never could've dreamed of under Saddam. You all should be ashamed.
Brett Walker, Houston, TX, USA

Let's try putting this into perspective, there are over 25 million people in Iraq who are now starting to benefit from the rebuilding of the infrastructure there. There are thousands upon thousands of people lining up for the jobs that have been created since the fall of Saddam. The oil that is produced by the Iraqis is sold on the world market and as a producer of that oil, the Iraqi people benefit from that revenue. The coalition forces are winning the "hearts and minds" of the majority of the population in Iraq. Sadr has maybe 10,000 supporters, many of whom were loyal to Saddam during his reign and have now probably been disenfranchised by the majority of the Iraqi people.
Andy, GA, USA

I think Sadr is better than all those government officials in Iraq.
Laraib Khan, Chicago, IL
Personally I think Sadr is better than all those government officials in Iraq. He is saying what he wants and that's what democracy is. "Freedom of speech" Also, whenever someone doesn't agree with the U.S., they are always considered a terrorist. Why? I agree with him. We simply have taken one dictator out of that country and given them another one: The U.S.
Laraib Khan, Chicago, IL

It's a unique hold that the US has on the Middle East when one man can speak truthfully about the way the Middle East is used by the West and be downplayed as a 'radical', 'extremist' and 'terrorist'. For years the West has decided who can and who can't be a leader in the area, based on the lip service/benefits they receive. Just look at the way Saddam was supported by the US until they needed a new excuse to become more heavily involved near Cyria. In this way the west demands that Arab leaders govern more for the West than for their people and the West is reaping the rewards of this. I wish there were more outspoken Arabs with any semblance of power.
Evan, UK/Dubai

How can you people say Sadr is right? The guy is a terrorist who starts a fight whenever Iraq makes a move towards democracy!
San, Australia

Sadr ought to be consistent, and stop agreeing to cease fires with "The Enemy". Sadr speaks for his own contingent of fanatical followers, and not for the whole country. At some point, the Iraqi government must resolve to neutralize Sadr's movement, even if this means direct, intense, and prolonged conflict with the Sadr militia.

It is the same rhetoric that we have heard from Mr Sadr for some time now
So what is new about this message? It is the same rhetoric that we have heard from Mr Sadr for some time now. It is clear that there is a power struggle at hand. The people of the US don't want us to "occupy" the area. We simply want freedom for Iraq and its people. What is so horrible about the prospect of freedom? I don't get it.

I am hopeful that the United States Marines grant this madman his wish and dispatch him from the face of the earth just as soon as humanly possible.
Ross C. Glen, San Francisco/USA

So let me get this straight, the Iraqi president says "America is our friend" and it is ignored but when a radical cleric says "America is our enemy" that is gospel and that must be the way all Iraqi's feel? How do you people know that the current Iraqi president doesn't have a larger following that agree with him?
Michael, USA

I notice Sadr is not holding a rifle and fighting, he is like all bullies and liars - he is standing well back and getting the idiots who think he is right to die in his place. Like the tyrant before him he will get his just deserts and the sooner the better for all in Iraq.
Thomas D. Jago, Khobar, Saudi Arabia

He is just another petty warlord that uses religion to achieve his own goals. Perhaps it is time to leave Iraq, but stay or go all the problems in Iraq will be blamed on the coalition for generations to come.
Chris, Bradford, UK

The self-righteousness of al-Sadr is disgusting
Gregg, Alexandria, Va, USA
The self-righteousness of al-Sadr is disgusting. Equally disturbing are the terrorist apologists who applaud him and his actions. Didn't Saddam Hussein practice politics at gunpoint too? Is al-Sadr more concerned about his own position rather than rebuilding homes and establishing jobs for his people? It's staggering to think about how many opportunities are being lost every day because al-Sadr and his followers are trying to pull off some David-and-Goliath sideshow when EVERYONE should be committed to rebuilding the country, establishing new jobs, reconciling the Hussein-era atrocities and looking to the future.
Gregg, Alexandria, Va, USA

The answer is that not all Iraqis are the same. America is a friend to some and an enemy to others. Sadr himself is a friend to some Iraqis and a mortal enemy to others. In the end this situation is about power, not morality. Sadr wants a future for Iraq as a theocracy, preferably with himself in charge. Bush wants a future for Iraq as a state both friendly to and heavily influenced (if not actually controlled) by America. Neither side is particularly concerned how many innocent Iraqis are killed in the process.
Colin Wright, UK

It seems slightly ridiculous that this cleric and his supporters have put up a stronger resistance than the entire Iraqi army. Moqtada Sadr is clearly an opportunistic little thug who, sadly, has been given ample assistance in creating a populist base by the US military. They have created enough hostility to ensure that Sadr can replace the 300 men they claim he has lost several thousand times over, have failed to neutralise him either militarily or politically, and do not seem to have a plan for dealing with him.
Mike, London, UK

To allow this man the power he craves would be a backward step. He is the sort who will not be happy until everyone thinks as he does. He is yet another terrorist who uses religion as a front. It's a shame those who follow him cannot see it. If he has any say at all in Iraq it will be a new Afganistan and no better than when Saddam was in power. No doubt those who disagree with him will find their life expectancy drastically shortened. The current Iraqi leaders need to stamp on him now before he gains more support from a people who are too used to being told what and how to think.
Mark, Norwich

He personifies the next kind of oppression that awaits Iraq.

Oscar, Buenos Aires
Moqtada Sadr is a thug in clerical robes. He is sponsored by Islamic extremists and he leads an army of thugs which terrifies the Iraqi people. All he wants is power. He will do anything and kill as many innocents as necessary for it. He personifies the next kind of oppression that awaits Iraq. But like Saddam Hussein himself, Sadr is also a consequence of the American policies in the Middle East. The US is simply doing too many things wrong in too many places.
Oscar, Buenos Aires

Ali - I am surprised that you didn't even mention how Sadr's men kidnapped 6 policemen and tortured them. Stop blaming the Americans for everything.
Ahmed Fatah, Baghdad, Iraq

To be quite frank, I'm actually quite glad that this Sadr character made this statement. In order to ensure peace in Iraq, the US was willing to bow down to the whims of this bully. Seeing what his few restless hooligans could accomplish, Sadr got greedy. This is what is going to finish him.
Emmanuel Quartey, Tema, Ghana

Iraqis who are happy to be compliant towards US plans for their country are considered 'friends'. Those who object are called 'insurgents'. What the US has to understand is that America is not the only place in the world where patriotism exists.
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK

All of you should go check out some Iraqi citizen web blogs ...and there are plenty; they condemn this fat little baboon for what he is, and his followers for being nothing more than bought-off, unemployed thugs.
P.D. Asilomar, San Diego, CA USA

Al-Sadr is no friend of the Iraqi people, he is an egomaniac who strives for recognition.
Waleeta C., Chicago, IL
It is so sad to see that people outside of the US are so anti-American, and people inside the US seem to be so anti-Iraqi. I am an Iraqi-American, and I can tell you this: Al-Sadr is no friend of the Iraqi people, he is an egomaniac who strives for recognition. While Bush may an enemy of Iraq, America is not. And a democracy in Iraq is not meant to just represent the wishes of the majority, but to also protect the rights of the minority, which happen to be Christian. An Islamic state is a silly, dangerous idea.
Waleeta C., Chicago, IL

I applaud Sadr. He is helping the coalition separate the good guys from the bad guys in a very difficult war engagement. Now we can see who is embracing freedom and who is fighting for fascism. I wish he'd buy all of his supporters uniforms to make the job even easier.
Jason, Detroit, USA

Time to quash Mr. Sadr and his thugs once and for all. This guy has little support in Iraq and is sponsored by Iran. Iraqis know this and want him down.
Wijnand, Amsterdam, NL

He and his brave followers are fighting the crusaders and defending their homeland.
Taz, UK
Sadr is right and a hero. He and his brave followers are fighting the crusaders and defending their homeland. Good luck to the martyrs and freedom fighters in Iraq defending their own homeland from the coalition terrorists. Unlike many of the American spies that make up the current Iraqi government, Sadr and his brave followers have not sold out to Western depravity and greed.
Taz, UK

To Taz: If you are son concerned about "Western greed and depravity", why are you resident in the UK? Why haven't you moved to Najaf to support Sadr? The truth is that men like Sadr are incapable of accepting that not all others agree with their world view. If he will not accept the rights and freedoms of others as equal to his own, and seek to impose barbarities such as his version of Sharia law on others, he should expect to be neutralised.
Richard, England

As long as the American government offers the unconditional support to Israel. It will be considered an enemy. This is not new news and we do not need al Sadr to tell us that, nor do we need to follow the path of terror to stop them. We need to look into the ties between Israel and The US. As a moderate Arab I would treasure the friendly actions and respond in kind to such actions, but I need to help my brothers in Iraq and Palestine alike to stop the occupation.
Ahmad Hmoud, Amman, Jordan

As a veteran of the current war in Iraq and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 I have to say that the statement "America is our enemy" does nothing to help the Shia people of Iraq. As a medic during two tours of duty in war with Iraq I witnessed and participated in hundreds of acts that benefited everyday Iraqi civilians in the interest of their health. What I am writing about has nothing to do with injuries that have to do with war, but that come from the natural cycle of life. If I am an "enemy" of the Iraqi people like al-Sadr says I am then I would like an explanation from Mr. al-Sadr on why I left my children to go to Iraq two times to provide his people with medical care.
Kioko Akipukai, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA

He and his band fanatical thugs need to be eliminated with extreme prejudice.
Sadr and his ilk are nothing more than horde of theocratic fascists. He and the rest of the extreme minority in Iraq are against freedom of religion, speech, open elections, and any form of women's rights (to name a few issues). He and his band fanatical thugs need to be eliminated with extreme prejudice. If that occurs we will slowly begin to see the pro-democratic silent majority in Iraq speak up and support for Iraq's new government will grow. I just hope the coalition forces and the Iraqi interim government will stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks and will finally do things the way they need to be done. If Sadr wants a war, give him one!

There will always be those who stir rebellion and conflict to catapult themselves to power. Sadr is no different, he sees the gradual calm returning to the nation as a threat to his radical ideology.
Prashanth Parameswaran, Malaysia

The United States led coalition hasn't been nearly aggressive enough in destroying militias and insurgents of all stripes and threatening Iraq's neighbours, specifically Syria and Iran if they don't seal the borders and stop the infiltrations. If the coalition doesn't start taking much stronger action, we'll never be able to get out of there.
Mark, USA

There is absolutely no room for Mr. Sadr or his philosophy in a new Iraq and he must be killed or captured and his militia dismantled and neutralized. His form of Shiite radicalism would just turn Iraq into another Iran, a country ruled by self-serving dictator/warlords who shroud themselves in the guise of religion.
John, NJ, USA

The alienation of a part of the Shiite population is the single greatest failure of the coalition.
Rob M, Calgary, Canada
The alienation of a part of the Shiite population is the single greatest failure of the coalition. Pretty much anyone could have predicted resistance from the Sunnis. They were, after all, Saddam Hussein's support base and their inevitable loss of power was certain to breed resentment. However, the Shiites had much to gain by the toppling of the Baathist government. That many of them now feel the US/UK is the enemy is a disaster.
Rob M, Calgary, Canada

I think Muqtada Al Sadr is quite right because America has never been the friend of any Islamic State. If America was Iraq's friend then why they didn't help Shias when they were being killed by Saddam. They even helped Saddam to not to let them come into power in Iraq because Shias might follow Iran. America is the friend of oil not Muslims. Why not they try to solve the Kashmir problem? The answer is simple because there is not any oil in Kashmir.
Muzafar, Quetta, Pakistan

Moqtada Sadr is stating the blindly obvious. A friend does not reduce your country's infrastructure to rubble, promise to rebuild, then do nothing significant. A friend does not occupy your country, control your resources and tell you how grateful you should be to be free.
Giles, Nottingham, England

He is probably an opportunist who will play on this popular sentiment to gain support.
Richard, Bangkok, Thailand
It is not inconsistent to say that America is Iraq's enemy and that Sadr is fighting for his own advancement. He is probably an opportunist who will play on this popular sentiment to gain support. However, there are many like Sadr in Iraq and I doubt if he is really a key player. Rather I suspect he is mainly the figure of an on-going news story.
Richard, Bangkok, Thailand

What did you expect him to say? Of course he regards the Americans and the interim government as enemies, he's a terrorist. What does it mean for Iraq? Death, destruction and more bad feelings.
Terry, Epsom, England

The title "radical cleric" that the west has dubbed Sadr really says it all. He is impeding our conquering and domination ploy, so we will vilify him to no end. Defending one's country is more patriotic than laying down to foreign invaders, which is what we are.
Eric, Texas - USA

Deny the Shia majority their Islamic state and we have simply exchanged one dictatorship for another
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sadr should be grateful he has a platform to air these views. However, a democracy that ignores the wishes of the majority will always have this kind of trouble. Deny the Shia majority their Islamic state and we have simply exchanged one dictatorship for another.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)

Mr. Sadr's followers are exercising the legitimate right of a nation to rise against its foreign subjugators. If for doing this they are to be labelled terrorists, so were the French resistance during World War II and the Jewish during the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto.
Gonzalo Vásquez Villanueva, Santiago, Chile

As a practising Shia Muslim myself, it kills me to see Najaf, and Iraq in general, as a war-zone. Sadr is a man who has seen terrible atrocities. It is inaccurate to say who is the enemy or the friend. There are good and bad on both sides. His treatment of the situation is not in accordance with true Islam. I personally follow Al-Sistani. Peace is the solution to war. We know who started the war, but who will start the peace?
Matthew, London, UK

If what the Iraqi people want is an Islamic state in the style of Iran, then Sadr is right to say that America is the enemy. But if what Iraq wants is a democracy constrained by respect for individual rights, then Iraq has no better friend than America.
Mark, Boston US

Sadr is quite correct to say that America is the enemy of the Iraqi people. The USA backed the rise of Saddam Hussein and supported, for many years, his brutal rein of terror over the Iraqi people, this is beyond doubt. The Iraqi people know that it was the US that was behind the enforcement of genocide sanctions during the nineties and they also see through the sham of the invasion for what it is - a blatant theft of their resources and the use of their country as a staging post for further wars against their Arab brothers. The WHOLE WORLD knows that this is the case and so must the Iraqi people. Sadr is right.
Simon Ashton, London, UK

Sadr is not a patriot, he is a gangster who is fighting to gain power for himself and not for his people. His militia is an extremely small portion of the population and there is no wide spread support. Forget the one-sided news that the mainstream media provides, there are new web logs written by Iraqis within Iraq going online everyday. Go read them. They all think this guy is a jackass who needs to be put down once and for all.
Kevin, Illinois, USA

Sadr knows what he is doing. This is his home turf and he has thousands of sympathizers. It really does not matter what we in the West think. As long as he holds credibility with his followers, just as Bin Laden, he will continue to operate with impunity. Look at the gang related problems within the U.S. We can't control our problems in the streets domestically. Need I say more.
Brian, California USA

Al Sadr is the only person holding back the development of the new Iraq
Tony, Texas, USA
Al Sadr is the only person holding back the development of the new Iraq. Without him and his militia, the only violence that would be happening right now is the sporadic car bombings by unattached insurgents. His followers are being manipulated in to thinking that they are fighting for Iraq's freedom when all it amounts to is Sadr's own personal quest for power. He needs to realize that he is only prolonging foreign troop presence by inciting his followers to attack police stations and disrupt rebuilding efforts. Our troops aren't gung-ho vigilante warriors that go out looking for fights, they are ordinary Americans who want the Iraqi national guard and police to be able to carry out their day to day duties so they can go home to their families.
Tony, Texas, USA

Unfortunately I can't see a peaceful solution for Iraq in the immediate future. There is too much hate, ignorance, fear and worst of all too many weapons around. I just hope the US finds a way to communicate with the Iraqis, but I seriously doubt it.
Richard, London UK

Is there some inconsistency in Mr Sadr's pronouncements that I've missed? My understanding has always been the same as his - we are enemies. I'm afraid Tony won't spin any gloss on this one with smooth talk - fighting is what enemies do.
Graham, Milton Keynes, UK

I feel Americans have no regard for Iraqis. They treat us like we are under them. I'm not a violent man, but when I see Americans point guns our face and put their shoes on are body while they search our homes it really makes me mad. Maybe Americans are really our enemy
Ali, Iraq

To Ali in Iraq -- Please don't mistake the soldiers' fear for feelings of superiority. Those soldiers don't know whether you want to kill them or talk to them. They are being attacked daily, just like you. If you were to listen to them, as we do here in the US, they would tell you they are there fighting for your freedom. Hang in there!
Andrea, NY, USA

Why not ask the Sunni and Kurdish population what they think of their "friend" Sadr? How about Al-Sistani's followers? Oh yeah, that's right, you don't want to hear from anyone who's working for peace in Iraq, do you? And certainly no one who supports the work of the US/UK troops!

And what is Sadr, that he wishes to stoke up the trouble in Iraq? If he is an example of their friends, maybe they are better off with their enemies. I've never supported the war there, because I could see it would come to something like the situation we have here. But, clumsy and ill-informed as they often are, America is at least trying to straighten out the situation it has created. Unlike Sadr.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

Sadr is fighting for his country and believes himself to be a patriot
Tom, Houston, TX, USA
The US has illegally invaded and occupied his country and has recently installed a puppet government while maintaining a massive military presence. Sadr is fighting for his country and believes himself to be a patriot. Objectively Sadr looks far better than the US in this conflict.
Tom, Houston, TX, USA

The Americans have gone in guns blazing and failed to win hearts and minds. They have brought this on themselves.
Matt, Norwich

He's 100% spot on. Iraq would be well advised to align itself with European countries as quickly as possible, as it is patently obvious to any neutral, thinking observer that the US is there merely to protect its energy supply interests. There will never be peace in Iraq until the Americans leave and , whilst I detest any form of killing of innocent people, it is by no means an undisputed fact that the American forces are "innocent people". Far from it.
Rustam Roy, England (ex-India)

In my view, the Bush administration is not remotely interested in the welfare of the Iraqi people, except to the extent that it ultimately facilitates control over the petroleum resource. They misread the Iraqi national character and now have a big problem with legitimate resistance to occupation. They are applying their usual remedy of more violence. Sadr is right, America is an enemy of the Iraqi people and the efforts of his, and other self defence militia to get them to o get them to leave is to be applauded.
Heather Dewberry, Toddington, Bedfordshire

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