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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK
Does Iraq violence threaten democracy?
We discussed the future of Iraq in our global phone-in programme Talking Point.

We discussed the security situation in Iraq in our global-phone-in programme 'Talking Point' on Sunday 22 August at 1500 BST. Discussing the issues were Sayyed Mohamed Musawi, Chairman of the World Islamic League and an advisor to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and by Salim Lone, former spokesman to the UN mission in Iraq.

Read a selection of your earlier comments on this subject.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Sadr knows that by joining the political process he cannot have the level of control and power he craves
Anthony, New Jersey, USA
I don't believe that Sadr will join the political process because the very reason he is fighting is for power. He knows that by joining the political process he cannot have the level of control and power he craves. He is precisely the type of man to be wary of in the future of Iraq. He aspires to be the next Saddam Hussein.
Anthony, New Jersey, USA

Sadr cannot claim to be more important than the ancient historic shrine and the innocent peace loving people of Najaf. He should immediately join the political/peace process if he wants to be a true leader for the future of Iraq as his present stance will be counterproductive, self-defeating for himself and most disastrous for Iraqi people.
S P Das, Kolkata, India

Even if Moqtada Sadr does decide to end his uprising and join the political process, can you honestly see the US allowing him to have some sort of power. After all Iraq will only go on as the US wants it to: As a puppet state.
Paul Edwards, London, UK

Najaf is a "must win" for Bush. Another disaster like Falluja will be another nail in his re-election coffin.
Gerald Wadsworth, USA

What you have to remember is that this violence was started when America not the Iraqis told Mr Sadr that he would be banned from standing for election. When you are denied your democratic rights the only alternative is to fight for them.
David Russell, Glasgow

Democracies encourage political diversity and opposition parties
Neil, UK
The current situation indicates that Iraqi democracy cannot be achieved with the US occupation of Iraq. It's one or the other! The current struggle is against the occupation. The US has no moral or legal high ground to justify its occupation of Iraq. So the US should leave and Iraq should course its own democratisation process as any sovereign state has the right to. As for the local political and tribal bickering, what nation on earth does not have these characteristics? In fact democracies encourage political diversity and opposition parties.
Neil, UK

Bringing stability in Iraq by the US is nothing but wishful thinking. The US should be well aware of the fact that a government set up to serve the American purpose is not appreciated by the Iraqis. The sad part is that the occupiers need more trouble before they get the drift.
Shujon, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Mr. Sadr is no fool, he knows that to choose the political route would mean imprisonment by a puppet Iraqi government. He also realises that martyrdom at the hands of US forces would only elevate his stature and validate his methods in the eyes of countless people in the region. I applaud any effort by the U.N. to stem the bloodshed in Iraq, but I fear that Washington is prepared to flatten Najaf in order to tighten their grip on Iraqi oil resources.
Robert, Detroit, U.S.A.

It would help Iraq a great deal if Mr Sadr joined the political process. I hope he does this so his perspective can have a voice in the future of Iraq. However, there is no place in a civilized sovereign nation for multiple militias at odds with each other and with government forces - this generates chaos and instability. Mr Sadr says he opposes the occupation and seeks to preserve holy places, but the quickest way to end the occupation and protect it is to have a stable Iraq. Only when Iraq is stable will the U.S. leave.
Gary, USA

Any attempt to fix a future government by excluding irksome factions is a recipe for guerrilla war
George Devereux, Pembridge, Herefordshire
Before people call Moqtada Sadr a thug and outlaw, perhaps they should remember the estimated 37,000 Iraqis killed and the several hundred thousand maimed for life by, in my view, a petroleum-driven, totally illegal invasion. Also, spare a thought for the estimated half million children that died due to US-inspired UN sanctions. Born and bred in Iraq, Moqtada Sadr and his militia looks a lot more legal in Iraq than the US army does. Anyone with a constituency - and he has quite a large one - should be invited into a provisional government. Any attempt to fix a future government by excluding irksome factions is a recipe for guerrilla war.
George Devereux, Pembridge, Herefordshire

The situation in Iraq will never get better unless there's a sincerity in work and cooperation between all the strong parties inside Iraq towards the whole Iraqi national interest. At this time all the religious, tribal and ethnic leader inside Iraq have to understand there is a real chance for each one of them to be involved in the political process. But if any one of them wants to choose the continuous killing and destruction of life in Iraq then the Iraqi law should deal harshly with them.
Ali Saood, Iraqi living in Dublin

War in Iraq will not stop until the invasion army leaves it. The majority of Iraqis don't agree with the occupation by American forces on their land. They don't find the welfare and democracy that the USA promised instead they find killings, destruction, and a hard life
Hany Kamel, Cairo, Egypt

I feel the fundamental differences between the two sides will stand in the way of peace. Moqtada Sadr and his followers will never accept American solutions, because in their view the Americans can never be trusted because their support of Israel will always shape their actions as hostile.
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan

We'll see how long it takes until Moqtada Sadr reneges on his peace concession. He is not interested in the political process or he would have already joined it. In my view, he's just another terrorist and once the pressure is off he'll regroup and the killing will start again.
Matt J., Guam, USA

Those that think Iraq will become peaceful simply by US withdrawing its forces are living in a dream. If the US follows such advice, Iraq will soon fall into chaos instead. The Iraqis themselves are not ready to provide security and clamp down on destabilizing forces such as Moqtada Sadr. When you're dealing with someone like Moqtada Sadr, he only understands forceful actions. He will take and take if you yield one inch. It's sad that many fall for Sadr's rhetoric and draw simplistic conclusions. You should ask, what has Sadr done to help Iraq and does Iraq really need that kind of help now?
J. C., Irvine, CA

No, true peace will never come to Najaf. Not while there are approximately 30 000 men in the vicinity all armed, twitchy, and trained to kill. Each individual involved is being drip/force fed their respective leaders rhetoric. The irony is that both the US and Sadr soldiers are irreversibly convinced they are doing a service to God and Iraq. Somewhere, somehow, somebody has very carefully structured these flawed arguments.
Sean, Brussels, Belgium, ex South Africa

Peace can be achieved only without foreign intervention.
Irena, Montreal, Canada

Yes, it can be achieved. United Nations may be the only neutral authority to negotiate retaining the respect of both parties. Mr. Ashraf Qazi, UN Envoy, should be involved urgently to avoid more blood shed. Shodri Kan, Bihar, India
Shodri Kan, Bihar, India

Yes, peace can be achieved very easily if the occupation forces withdraw completely from Iraq.
Syed, Austin, USA

The militia of Mr. Sadr see themselves as defenders of the holy shrine, but in reality, it is defending them!
Thomas Thompson, Springfield, Ohio, USA
The militia of Mr. Sadr see themselves as defenders of the holy shrine, but in reality, it is defending them! Mr. Sadr can have a constructive part in the political process only after his militia lays down arms and he is cleared of murder charges. The strategy should be a prolonged, humane siege on the compound: cut power, jam all communications, and provide food and water for those inside.
Thomas Thompson, Springfield, Ohio, USA

I do not see any difference between the Iraqi PM & Mr Sadr. Both are trying to fill the power vacuum left by Saddam's departure. The only difference is the PM is using foreign power and Mr Sadr is using local power to achieve their goals. One more point for all the Americans who support the Iraqi PM would they support a person nominated by a foreign power to rule them over a local guy?
Arun, India

Peace in Najaf can be achieved if the aggressors withdraw. Is the west going to impose it's own type of democracy on these people?
Jim McCoy, Ireland

How interesting that all of the comments here from Iraqis actually in Iraq are so far against Sadr, yet most of the comments from people outside Iraq are against US/UK. Who is best placed to judge the effects of the situation in Najaf do you think? Not for the first time I wonder if our media here in the UK is giving us a true picture of Iraq today, only negatives are reported and anti-US sentiment is given massive prominence over other views.
Will Sheward, Harlow, UK

Most Iraqis do not have reliable electricity, let alone a computer connected to the internet. Will Sheward, Harlow, UK, needs to understand that Iraqis making comments to the BBC are a privileged minority, whose views may not reflect majority Iraqi public opinion. Certainly, the majority of Iraqis connect their current plight with the Anglo-American invasion, and it is also a fact that a clear majority of the non-Kurdish population would like the occupiers out immediately.
Gerrard Fox, Brussels

Liberty will never be achieved if zealots gain political power
Jeff Watts-Roy, Louisville, USA
Though I see the US invasion of Iraq as an illegal action, I feel that to give the people of Iraq true freedom and to make the most of a bad situation there needs to be more effort to devise a secular government there. Liberty will never be achieved if zealots gain political power. That being said, Sadr should lay low, condemn bloodshed, and influence folks from the pulpit and through the salient peace taught by Islam. Pacifism is the ultimate weapon against the West - think of what Ghandi achieved through peaceful actions. The US public would never support harming pacifists, but they would gladly support the removal of "hostile threats" like Mr. Sadr.

In the US we are beginning to see how things can go awry when you mix religion and politics, it breaks the rational civility of democracy as envisioned by our founders. Iraq has the potential to teach the world a thing or two about democracy and freedom if given a chance.
Jeff Watts-Roy, Louisville, USA

Puppet or not, there are going to be elections next year. Perfect or not perfect, these elections are going to take place and elect a government that is more representative than anything in place today or yesterday with Saddam. Sadr doesn't want elections. He wants an Al-Sadr theocracy. Nothing more, nothing else.
Monti, Ottawa

It is a pure struggle for power by Mr Sadr. If he felt he could gain power in the coming elections, he wouldn't have started the uprising. But his chances for seizing power in Iraq are weak and he knows that improving situation shall limit them even further.
Rafal Nawrot, Warsaw, Poland

Sadr has been given many opportunities to join the political process, but has refused them all. He continually demands the warrant against him be voided without a proper investigation. He desecrates holy shrines for his own agenda. It is the violent acts of people like him that limits the reconstruction and restoration of Iraq that the US has promised. If he truly wants peace for Iraq, then he needs to leave the Imam Ali and turn himself in to get a resolution on his outstanding warrant.
Jason Lee, TX, USA

This is serious business that inextricably keeps sucking more and more of the world into its vortex
Kate, Spain
How amazing it is that nations leading the attack on Najaf don't know what they risk unleashing. There's seems to be no awareness at all that Shias are not some wee localized cult. If Imam Ali's shrine is desecrated, Shias from Malaysia to India to North Africa...everyone who believes that Ali was the rightful inheritor of the Prophet Mohammed...will become involved. I mean, this is serious business that inextricably keeps sucking more and more of the world into its vortex. Stop it!
Kate, Spain

Moqtada al Sadr is a common criminal hiding behind a cleric's garb. If he is unwilling to surrender, the Imam Ali mosque should be hermetically sealed and in time they shall run out of food, water and medical supplies and would have no option but to give up. It is sad that the community supports such thuggery in the name of religion.
Avi Chopra, Ajax, ON (CANADA)

There will never be any peace in Iraq, and this is the fault of the West. We think that we can just go there and do as we like.
AF Lissone, Amsterdam, Holland

Peace in Najaf can be achieved if one of two things happen: either Ali Sistani steps in and orders Sadr to lay down his arms, or the Americans go in and ruthlessly crush him and all his followers. I don't think there'll be a serious Shia backlash if they did that, I don't think that he has that much support, after all Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is the head of the Shias in Iraq.
Tom, Aberdeen

I think that peace can be achieved if we deal with the causes of Islamic fighting against USA troops.
John, Estonia

This is one of many tests of courage that Iraqis must pass on the road to democracy
Kurt, Baton Rouge, USA
Moqtada Sadr will consider any ballot that does not make him Supreme Leader to be illegitimate and will turn again to violence. This is one of many tests of courage that Iraqis must pass on the road to a peaceful democracy. Will they recognize and fight him as the national enemy that he is or allow him to destroy their hopes?
Kurt, Baton Rouge, USA

Having been liberated once, the Iraqi citizens of Najaf city - having miraculously mutated at the behest of the US administration from grateful liberatees into foreign fighters, terrorists and religious zealots - are about to be liberated again. You would have thought this second liberation would be something of a propaganda coup for the US-led coalition, but it seems all the journalist in the area have been threatened with death unless they leave. Still, I'm sure the world will be a safer and more peaceful place when all sister, brothers, cousins and grandchildren of the eventually liberated get round to thanking us all for our efforts.
Martin Cobb, Melbourne, Australia

Moqtada Sadr is a criminal and should be treated that way. Capturing him and destroying his army is the only solution. Take note that democracy has its own price.

No, I don't think that peace in Najaf can be achieved without dealing with Moqtada Sadr first. This cleric is directly challenging the Iraqi interim government and must be faced down. But woe betide anyone who delivers him his martyrdom!

I think that the solution is to isolate the mosque where he and his followers are hiding. Cut off all electricity and water supplies. Let nobody leave and then rely on natural forces (hunger, thirst) to flush these people out. Quietly and non-violently. That should be possible for the Iraqi authorities to achieve.
Mike Druttman, Hod Hasharon, Israel

Mr Sadr has no interest in being part of the political process, he wants only to be the political process. The Iraqis are only fooling themselves if they think Sadr will settle for anything less then dictatorship ruled by himself. Sadr need to be jailed and his troops disarmed as soon as possible.
James Whelan, Miami, FL

There is no room for negotiation
Jeff Kelsey, Bethesda, MD, US

There is no room for negotiation with a man who has brought death and destruction to the people of his city. Sadr should be tried in an Iraqi court after he has been brought to justice.
Jeff Kelsey, Bethesda, MD, US

The crisis of Najaf is a result of the simplistic approach taken by this US Administration for this invasion and by a lack of consensual Iraqi Leaders who should possess tolerance, vision and strategies for their Country.
Philippe Chesnel, Lebanon

Whatever concessions are made to Al Sadr, they will only pacify him for a short time. The more he is given, the more he will demand. On the other hand, defeating him militarily creates a whole new set of problems for the Iraqi government and coalition forces. I fear there are no good options.
Chris, Los Angeles, CA

The US should pull out from Najaf. Iraqi's should talk to the Cleric and allow the Cleric to be the part of decision making process in the government.
Sachin Patil, India

A common Iraqi view: Nothing will change the fact that America is trying to impose an agenda through force ignoring the fact that Iraq is an ancient cultured place and modern nations can not change it (Britain tried after WWI and failed). Also, the USA is ignoring their own mistakes of the past 20 years - supporting Saddam against Iran in the 80's then bombing and sanctions in the 90's. To many Iraqis America is part of that ugly past we want to forget to move forward. There is no chance of a settlement before America leaved Iraq because we do not trust them.
Y Ubaidi, Iraqi in Swansea, UK

People like Al-Sadr should be eliminated before it is too late. Thugs and outlaws have no right to participate in Iraq's democratic political process. I hope the American and Iraqi forces will crush his movement and punish him for the hundreds of deaths he has caused so far.
Marcin Wilk, Freiburg, Germany

The problem is that all the Iraqi institutions lack any legitimacy
Carl, Cambridge, UK
The problem is that all the Iraqi institutions lack any legitimacy. All are appointees of the occupying forces. Until elections are held and a Government is established that has a democratic mandate, no real progress will be made.
Carl, Cambridge, UK

If we look at the Iraq as a political unity, the greatest threat comes from al-Sadr who brings all his support from Iran, which is also afraid of a possible US-attack. Iran does not benefit from stability and peace in Iraq. Continuing violence means that the US forgets the Iranian dictators who are oppressing all the ethnic groups in Iran. Is this what Al Sadr wants to do with the diverse Iraq? Does he want to create a despotic Shia Iraq and oppress all other groups in Iraq? The US is not the problem this time for all, but al-Sadr and Iran.
Barzoo, Stockholm, Sweden

The only way out for the US officials is to offer Mr. Sadr a place in the new Iraqi government regardless of its fear of an all-Shia Iraq. Any more assaults or crushing for the Najaf uprising will backfire and deepen the hatred for the American forces.
Khaledu Hadj Barahim, Oran, Algeria

Moqtada al-Sadr is not a political person. He has neither political agenda nor popularity as a politician. That's why he would rather speaking to armed militia than ordinary Iraqi people. I am so pleased with the maturity of the Iraqi interim government for giving go ahead to the peace delegation for Najaf. The time is against Mr. Sadr. He knows that as soon as he lays his arms down, nobody will take him seriously. If he declines to disarm his militia, the Iraqi troops will finish the job much easier than before. In the history of Iraq, he would be regarded as an adventurous Mullah who disserved his country to appease Iraq's foreign enemies.
Mahmoud Kermani, Toronto, Canada (Iranian)

Whether it is a negotiated settlement or force, it has to be an Iraqi decision
Ganesan Srinivasan, New York, USA
Whether it is a negotiated settlement or force, it has to be an Iraqi decision. The US did not go into Iraq so that they can kill a bunch of Iraqis. The US will eventually leave and Iraqis will have to learn to compromise and live together. The national assembly meeting and subsequent appeal to Sadr to drop his violent ways is the correct approach. I hope Sadr finds a way to back down under cover of this appeal.
Ganesan Srinivasan, New York, USA

From previously published opinions of Iraqis, including those of Najaf residents, I get the impression that Sadr and his followers are a tiny minority that tries to compensate low numbers with highly publicised terror and bullying aimed at the locals (500,000 Najaf citizens v. c.2000 barricaded in the Ali shrine). Was Sadr not wanted initially for the murder of a moderate Shi'te cleric? Same old story: If you cannot win in an election, take up arms.
Peter Bojkov, Toronto, Canada

Moqtada al-Sadr is gathering more support amongst the Shia Group and he enjoys some amount of sympathy from Sunni Muslims too. If you say Iraq should be democratic then this should be taken into consideration. He may not be liked by Iyad Alawi and the US, but he has a popular support. All possible efforts should be made to bring Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters into the political process and military engagement should be restrained.
Bhanu Thapa, Pokra, Nepal

In my opinion and I am sure that of Iraqis, the solution is for the US and British armies to leave Iraq and let a UN sanctioned multinational peace keeping force led by Arab countries takes over. Moqtada al-Sadr is not an anarchist who likes war. He is only fighting against the occupation of Iraq by the US and the UK forces. As long as the colonial tendencies of this occupation persist I am certain the Iraqis will remain restless. No self-respecting nation appreciates being subdued in its own backyard.
Mlungisi, Johannesburg, South Africa

The greatest hope is that another cleric, al Sistani perhaps, will condemn the rebellion
Will, Seattle, USA
I find it very disturbing that a religious leader would hole up in his religion's holiest shrine while carrying out a violent rebellion. It takes a real leap of logic to understand a man like that. I really wonder if an elected Iraqi government would have any better success in dealing with him. The greatest hope is that another cleric, al Sistani perhaps, will condemn the rebellion and gain some real, legitimate power in the permanent government. There is no short term solution, since al-Sadr will not ever completely lay down arms as long as Iraq is occupied or governed by the interim government. If he is killed, he will become a martyr to those who think like he does, and the violence will become much more difficult to end.
Will, Seattle, USA

Sadr would have joined the political process if he had enough support to win. He doesn't, so he is using violence whilst hiding in a shrine. He would like nothing better than to have the Mosque damaged and blame the government and US. There should be negotiations for his thugs to disarm. If they won't then they should be surrounded and contained.
Stephen, Brixton, London

With even the journalists being ordered to get out of the city, I dread an all out assault on the city which might or might not effect Al Sadr but will surely alienate the civilians. Sadr, like any shrewd politician, is expecting a big share of pie. His killing will create a martyr and another load of problems for the Americans. Sadr might not be popular among common Iraqis but neither are Allawi's govt.
Virendra Pratap Singh, London, UK

I am an Iraqi Shia citizen and I totally reject what Moqtada is doing
Sarah Al Zubaidi, Geneva
From BBCArabic.com I am an Iraqi Shia citizen and I totally reject what Moqtada is doing. He undermined the reputation of the Sadr Family and of Shias all over Iraq. Bloodshed and destruction are not acts of jihad and do not represent Islam by any means. He is manifesting his anger after failing to securing a position in the new Iraqi government. No decent honest Muslim would exploit the holy shrines like he did to achieve material gains.
Sarah Al Zubaidi, Geneva

From BBCArabic.com The city of Najaf doesn't need to be defended as much as it needs to be rebuilt and to enjoy safety. Moqtada's army deprived it from any perspective of safety or development. The city under Moqtada is pretty much the same as it was under Saddam Hussein.
Ahmad, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com The Baathists and the so called Mehdi Army should leave Najaf. Moqtada should beware of this clique or he will be held responsible for all the blood that will be shed in his name. Since he is adamant in continuing fighting, he should immediately leave the city centre and go away from the holy shrines.
Raad Al Jassas, Najaf, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com In my opinion, Moqtada has greatly contributed in the weakening of the Shias and has desecrated the holy shrines that he claims to defend. He claims to be a devout Shia while turning the Holy Mausoleum of Imam Ali into a weapon cache and a potential battleground. He placed pieces of artillery and machineguns on top of its minarets and when Americans returned his fire, he claimed that infidel Americans were destroying the shrines. Moqtada, you are very much aware of the holiness of these sites and should spare them any harm. If you want martyrdom, get out there and leave them as places of prayer like they have always been. Americans didn't come near them for a whole year until your army occupied it.
Haydar Al Karabala'i, Karbala, Iraq

Simple, US and British get out of Iraq. Apologize and compensate Iraq.
M. Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan

Moqtada Sadr and his followers will never lay down their arms to join in a political process that is viewed by many Iraqis and much of the international community as illegitimate, too strongly under the exclusive influence of the United States.
Moqtada Sadr and his followers will never lay down their arms to join in a political process
Matt Porcelli, Massapequa, NY USA
Until the US takes major steps to reverse its unilateral stance in Iraq and involve the rest of the world in the rebuilding process, the Iraqi delegates' proposal will remain unfeasible, and though a UN intervention might provide short term stability, it would not solve the larger problem of political legitimacy for Iraq's supposedly democratic government.
Matt Porcelli, Massapequa, NY USA

Many Iraqis apparently don't like their US-controlled puppet government, placed to protect the interests in Iraq of Bush campaign contributor corporations.
David Stephen Ball-Romney, Seattle, USA

Situation in Iraq can be changed by inclusion of Sadr and a more legitimate role of Mr. Sistani. UN special envoy must help end the crisis in Najaf as Najaf and Imam Ali mosque is one of the holiest sites for all Shiite Muslims. Yes, the situation in Najaf can get out of control as US and Iraqi government is portraying Sadr as a 'rebel leader'; he is also caretaker of Imam Ali Shrine and Mosque.
Abbas Naqvi, Melbourne, Australia

It's a shame that so many Iraqis have to sacrifice their lives to reject the American invaders. Of course the puppet program that is being called a political process is completely bogus. We should do everything we can to support the freedom fighters.
Roger Lafontaine, Ottawa, Canada

One thing can be done that foreign troops get out of Najaf and take there puppets with them.
One thing can be done that foreign troops get out of Najaf and take there puppets with them
H.J, Rotterdam Holland
This is our holy shrine and our Imam peace upon him. The US army have no right what so ever to be in Najaf neither the so called governor of Najaf. He should go back to the US where he learned to be a puppet. Peace will never be achieved with the Americans or there puppets in Najaf .
H.J, Rotterdam Holland

The only way for this to end is for Sadr to surrender and the militia to disband. I do not see this happening any time soon. Sadr is wanted for questioning in a murder investigation. To negotiate with him is to give his cause legitimacy. It will also allow more people to rally around him and drag this out for months. Many more, on both sides, are going to die before this is over.
Wayne, USA

If you let the insurgents dictate the pace of engagement this whole ordeal will turn into another Israel/Palestine never ending conflict.
John, New Richmond, WI. USA

What sort of democracy is going to be in Iraq if extremists like Moqtada could be part of the political process?
Amjad, Kuwait

Strange how the Iraqi's are sending in negotiators whereas the Americans are sending in bullets. I wonder which tactic will be more successful?
Nick, UK

The coalition troops must withdraw from Najaf as they did in Falluja. In addition, the US installed puppet government must resign and let the Iraqi people decide whether they accept or decline the existence of the occupier troops on their land.
Marianne Andrea, Nazareth

America get out of Iraq! End of story.
Tony Davis, America

If they went to war for false reasons, if Saddam (the bad guy) is in jail, why are they still killing people there? Especially the British. Let the Iraq's choose their ways. Is it fair to occupy, bomb and kill an entire nation? What are the revenues?
Veralice, Fortaleza-Brazil

US power in Iraq is not "democracy" - it's colonialism. The Iraqi resistance to the occupation and the puppet regime does indeed pose a threat to US colonialism, and ironically enough that threat is called democracy - the power of the Iraqi people in their own country.
Brendan Tuohy, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa

Anyone could have warned the Americans that truces are only a means of re-arming for these Arab terrorists. In my opinion, as the US already have the name, they should have the game and go in full tilt to destroy these insurgents, a job that should have been done three months ago without all of the false parleys.
Clifford Barnett, Barnet UK

So "The war on Terror" is being won! Really? Saddam's Iraq was a grim place for free spirits but evidence would suggest that there was no terrorist threat to either the U.S. or to world oil supplies from that country. Now there are both threats clearly present within Iraq. Well done, George and Tony; isn't it time you were both sent packing ?
Chris H., Liverpool, England

The solution to all the violence in Iraq is for the anti-democratic militias to be defeated in battle, their leaders captured and put on trial for the crimes they have committed against their own people and for the media to stop waging a propaganda campaign on behalf of the anti-democratic forces in Iraq and investigate and report honestly on the violent acts committed against Iraqi civilians by the insurgents. If you follow the media reports, all civilian deaths in crossfire are the fault of the multi-national peacekeeping forces. All mortars falling into civilian areas are fired by multi-national forces. All damage done to religious sites is carried out solely by multi-national forces etc etc. So come on media reporters, start reporting objectively and truthfully for once in your dishonest or downright negligent lives.
John, UK

The US's determination to impose its own puppet on Iraq and loot Iraq's economic assets is a greater threat to democracy than Sadr ever will be.
Andrew Clive, Glasgow, Scotland

Its very strange that the Americans are still fighting against Iraqi people. After removing old friend Mr Saddam, they should have gone home. Its the beginning of the Third World war. Holy places must not be attacked, and Iraq needs freedom from foreign pressure and politics.
Ony, Bergen Norway

How many innocent Iraqi citizens are going to be killed before this nightmare ends?
Johnny Franco Arboine, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
There is no real democracy to be preserved in Iraq. The current leaders are unelected scoundrels who care little for their own people. How many innocent Iraqi citizens are going to be killed before this nightmare ends? US forces have no right to invade or destroy the Imam Ali Mosque, the holiest site to Shia Muslims in Iraq.
Johnny Franco Arboine, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Nope, it's going to get lots worse. Why should Sadr stop? The US and Britain are hated over there. Sadr has successfully held us off 16 days so far. Every day is a victory for him and people who believe we are the devil. Bush was crazy to get involved in Iraq and it wasn't his job - Bin Laden was. It will cost him the presidency.
David, Portland, USA

There is only one threat to democracy in Iraq and that is whether the West will stay the course and continue the investment required for these people to reach the ability to achieve self-determination. We cannot bow to time, but rather we must hold for democracy to form and the self governing process to be completed.
Robert Moore, USA/Japan

All hats off for Moqtada Al-Sadr. He is the man of real guts. The uprising of such religious leaders and militias against US forces show their hatred towards foreign occupation. They never stood up like this against Saddam's regime, whereas now they confront a much bigger power. That tells the whole story. All true Muslims including Shias around the globe and in Pakistan are behind Moqtada.
Wasif Zaidi, Islamabad , Pakistan

I don't believe Peace, as we like to perceive it, can ever be achieved in that part of the world by imposing a democratic style government. Tragically the 'West' does not understand the Eastern mind. It seems to me that the 'can of worms' that Bush and Blair have opened will continue to wriggle and writhe, as it has since time began, until long after they have gone, breeding even more deadly 'worms' to contend with. Perhaps Saddam, evil though he was, was the lesser of the many evils which are waiting to fill the vacuum that has been left by his removal. The violence in Iraq will threaten the country's transition as long as other countries supply them with weapons of mass destruction. My question is where do they get the money from to buy all this armoury and at the same time feed their loved ones? Goodness alone knows what the new national assembly should do now to restore calm and security. I don't believe that anyone else knows either. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but that's life.
John, Halifax UK

Has any Civilized country in the past century, which claims freedom and democracy, used Heavy Military (air strikes and bombardment, tanks, etc.) against its own people to restore order? Would Americans do the same in their home country if any of this happened in LA or NY? Is this the example we want to give the Iraqi interim government on how to deal with a crisis?
Omarna, Finland

Its obvious to everyone that the coalition and the new Iraqi government have lost the Iraqi people. All the fighting has accomplished for the coalition is a more popular Al-Sadr.
Francis Terpening, Philadelphia USA

How can it? Iraq hasn't got a democracy. It has something foisted on it by the allies.
Martin, UK

Moqtada should put down his weapons and join in the political process or be crushed
Sandy Leitch, Aberdeen, UK
What do you think will happen if the US coalition withdraws from Iraq without the country being free from people who do not want to obey the word of law? Anarchy and civil war will reign. Is that a future you want to leave he people of Iraq with? Moqtada should put down his weapons and join in the political process or be crushed. There is no halfway mark, citizens cannot pick and choose which laws to obey.
Sandy Leitch, Aberdeen, UK

People are taking about how wonderful Iraq is now. You westerners do not understand Muslims and Arab culture. The Iraqi people may have suffered under Saddam, but the Iraqis and the Arab world would have much preferred to die under Saddam's regime rather than die under the Anglo American aggression and terrorism.

Reinstate uncle Saddam! Things were better under him. There was no terrorism, no kidnapping, oil flowed, social services worked even under the sanctions. There was security and employment. Reinstate him, re-arm him, give him chemical weapons and let him restore calm and stability. Many societies are not ready for democracy, nor do they deserve it.
Chris, HK

I think it all hinges on the word 'democracy'. If Iraq were to gain democracy in the true sense of the word, they would quite likely be happy with it. However, who wants democracy as defined by the United States of America! The Iraqis aren't blind.
Kevin B, London.

Speculation certainly runs rampant, but when the grey area is sifted through there are some remaing facts: Iraq was invaded by violent means by the "civilised" countries of the world. The infracture of the country was destroyed. There are still no jobs or decent living conditions for many of the Iraqi people. They have had a government hand-picked for them which is now faced with the same problems as Saddam as to how to quell civil unrest. The list goes on. Why would we expect that some of the people in Iraq would not respond in kind? As to threatening democracy, my understanding is that democracy is a way of life not an imposition.
M. Clark, UK/US

You don't bomb people into accepting Democracy
Patrick Palmer, Deerfield Beach, USA
You don't bomb people into accepting Democracy. The idea of freedom is that it should be gravitational. People should naturally want and seek it. To perpetrate an army instead of a peace corps is counterproductive. The US needs to get out. Now!
Patrick Palmer, Deerfield Beach, USA

God bless and strengthen the Mahdi fighters. Who can blame people fighting to liberate themselves from occupation!!! Who believes that US/UK are promoting democracy and they just acquitted the american criminals and their leaders in the Iraqi abuse massacre?! May God put a curse on Bush/blair
Tarek, Cairo,Egypt

Where is the democracy in Iraq? The assembly of 100 recently chosen was a slate of 81 candidates presented by Allawi & co and the 19 governing council appointed by the US. The 1000 representatives who went to the council could not elect candidates of their choice. There is violence in Iraq because there is no democracy and the people's voice is not heard. Allawi is just another tyrant.
F Majeed, Abu Dhabi,UAE, US expat

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