BAGHDAD ø After 10 days of withstanding attacks, the U.S. military
has lost patience with the Shi'ite militia of Iranian-backed cleric Muqtada
U.S. officials warned that Sadr's Mahdi Army was being given until
Tuesday to begin withdrawing from Kufa and Najaf. They said the Mahdi Army
has failed to implement its agreement to withdraw from the Shi'ite cities.
The agreement between Sadr and Shi'ite clerics was announced on May 29.
Coalition Provisional Authority senior adviser Dan Senor said on June 5
that the U.S. military would give the Mahdi Army 72 hours to monitor the
agreement with Sadr. He said the agreement was to have led to the departure
of the Shi'ite insurgents, evacuation of occupied buildings, closure of the
Islamic court and prison, and the return of the Iraqi police to all parts of
"It's not a deadline," Senor said. "It is just a period, a reasonable
timeframe within which we think we can monitor the progress and see if this
is sort of an isolated situation or is part of a broader trend to really
resolve the situation peacefully."
[On Tuesday, 13 Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed in a series of car
bombings in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Baqubah. Another of those killed
was a leading Iraqi police officer]
Senor said if Sadr does not begin to implement the agreement, the
U.S.-led coalition "will act and respond accordingly." He added that anybody
bearing weapons in Kufa and Najaf would also be considered "third-party
U.S. officials have tried to portray the agreement between Sadr and
Shi'ite clerics as a watershed meant to end control of the
Mahdi Army over Kufa and Najaf. Officials have reported the start of the
evacuation of the Mahdi Army, while witnesses maintained that Sadr's forces
remained in Kufa and Najaf.
On Monday, a mosque believed to have contained explosives and ammunition
blew up in Kufa. At least two people were killed.
"You have seen the deployment of Iraqi police into the city," Senor
said. "You are seeing joint patrols between Iraqi police and coalition
forces. You are seeing these weapons being turned in."
Senor said the Mahdi Army must disband and Sadr must surrender to
authorities to face charges of having plotted to kill a senior Shi'ite
cleric in April 2003. He did not say how Sadr should surrender.
But U.S. analysts expect Sadr to remain a thorn in the side of the
U.S.-led coalition. They said the Mahdi Army has been quick to adapt to U.S.
"The campaign against Sadr has yet to run its course, and claims that
his militia has been defeated are probably premature," Jeffrey White, a
retired U.S. government intelligence analyst and researcher at the
Washington Institute, said. "Muqtada Al Sadr is not just a passive recipient
of coalition blows. He is an adaptive opponent who is actively seeking to
avoid complete military defeat while enhancing his political position."
On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Alawi announced an agreement that
called for most of Iraq's independent militias to reintegrate or disband.
Alawi said 90,000 of the 100,000 members of nine militias will either join
the Iraqi security forces or enter civilian life by early 2005, when Iraq
Officials said the militias that have agreed to disband were the forces
of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the
Iraqi Islamic Party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in the
Iraqi/Badr Organization, the Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi National
Congress, the Iraqi Hizbullah, the Iraqi Communist Party and Da'wa.
The Mahdi Army was not included, officials said. Alawi's announcement
also failed to include the Sunni militia inspired by Al Qaida that controls
Faluja, about 50 kilometers north of Baghdad.
"Just under 60 percent will pass into the Iraqi security services and
the rest will be reintegrated back into civil society," Alawi said.