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Tater "Rejects" Iraqi Constitution
Influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he rejects the Iraqi constitution backed by his partners in the biggest parliamentary bloc, threatening to reignite one of the country's most explosive issues.

"I reject this constitution which calls for sectarianism and there is nothing good in this constitution at all," he told Al Jazeera television late on Saturday.

Sadr, a rebel leader turned political kingmaker, said the charter was unacceptable, complicating efforts to form a government more than two months after parliamentary elections.

"If there is a democratic government in Iraq, nobody has the right to call for the establishment of federalism anywhere in Iraq whether it is the south, north, middle or any other part of Iraq," said Sadr.

His stand could give political ammunition to Iraq's Arab Sunnis, who want major amendments to a charter they fear will give Shi'ites and Kurds too much power and control over oil resources.

The young cleric, who led two armed uprisings against U.S. and Iraqi troops, has emerged as a potent force in Iraqi politics, joining the powerful United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which won 128 of 275 seats in parliament in December 15 polls.

A swing vote by Sadr's supporters in a UIA ballot on its candidate for prime minister is likely to keep the Dawa party's Ibrahim al-Jaafari in the top job in government.

The Shi'ites, who will have a majority in the new assembly, have already insisted there can be no major changes to the charter, which was approved in October and envisages a federal Iraq with considerable autonomy for the regions.

Iraq's biggest Sunni political bloc has said it is committed to talks with Shi'ites and Kurds to form a government of national unity if its key demand on changing the constitution is met.

A review of the Iraqi constitution is set to start some time after the new government and parliament is formed.

Sadr's rejection of the charter could put him at the heart of one of the most sensitive sectarian issues in Iraq, where he is seen as an unpredictable but popular leader.

Sadr rose to prominence after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 by mobilizing his Mehdi Army militia to fight American troops and by speaking out for poor Shi'ites.

His uprisings against U.S. troops made him one of the few Shi'ite leaders to gain the respect of minority Sunnis, who dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein and have led the insurgency against U.S. troops and the new Iraqi government.

Although Sadr has said his Mehdi Army was always ready to fight, he has maneuvered through political minefields to a position where he can make or break Iraqi leaders.

The young cleric recently went on a tour of Arab states, projecting a new image of a religious statesman. But Sadr always likes to remind people that his militia stands ready to fight.

"The Mehdi Army will serve the Arab and Muslim countries and will defend them whether in Syria or Iran," he told Al Jazeera.

#10  Freedom is our watchword, and it will bring us peace in 50 years or so, after the Arab and Persian peoples decide to abandon Taliban style Islamic Statism.

Unless Persian and Arab governments abandon the sponsorship of terrorism a lot sooner than 50 years from now, many of those countries will be glassed over glow-in-the-dark parking lots. I'd say about 50 months (not years) is all they have.
Posted by: Zenster   2006-02-20 16:48  

#9  The people of the United States affirm our support for the choice of al-Sadr to participate in democratic elections. If that means formation of a government that is an enemy of the American people, then we will have to point the blame at our 70 year old strong-man/client state policies in the Middle East. Freedom is our watchword, and it will bring us peace in 50 years or so, after the Arab and Persian peoples decide to abandon Taliban style Islamic Statism. Whatever happens, we will keep up the subsidies, and demonstrate our resolve against all adversity. The American people are prepared to take all casualties, necessary to advance eventual freedom, and bare all expenses.
Posted by: State Department   2006-02-20 16:37  

#8  Why is this guy still stealing precious oxygen that could be used by far more deserving lifeforms like cockroaches and lice?
Posted by: Zenster   2006-02-20 12:00  

#7  And his picture is different, isn't it?

His finger used to be farther from his nose, right?

Posted by: Robert Crawford   2006-02-20 11:31  

#6  Stick a fork in em.
Posted by: DepotGuy   2006-02-20 11:16  

#5  Please note that now he is "influential" and a "kingmaker". Which sounds better than what he was being called before.
Posted by: Anonymoose   2006-02-20 09:43  

#4  Bremer was right about Tater. This guy should have been an ex-Tater 3 year ago.
Posted by: Captain America   2006-02-20 09:04  

#3  And his picture is different, isn't it?

His finger used to be farther from his nose, right?
Posted by: Bobby   2006-02-20 08:23  

#2  Boy am I confused!

He joined the Shiite parrty, who don't want to change the constitution, but he says it's no good.

Federalism is bad, but he want to maintain his own army, to work inside and outside Iraq.

The Sunnis like him, the Iranians like him - is he going to join up with Iminajag as the 12th Whoois?
Posted by: Bobby   2006-02-20 07:58  

#1  I think Tater needs to get a special invite for a meeting where someone will pull out a gun and shoot him in the head.
Posted by: Sock Puppet O' Doom   2006-02-20 00:43