Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr maintained his defiant stance against the U.S. as intense fighting in Sadr City and Najaf claimed more lives this weekend, including that of a Sadr relative and supporter, Riyad al-Nuri. Sadr roundly rejected American Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ call for him to “work within the political process in Iraq,” instead vowing that the U.S. would be his enemy until “the last drop of blood.”
“Those who are prepared to work within the political process in Iraq, and peacefully, are not enemies of the United States,” Mr Gates said.
“[Mr Sadr] has a large following. And I think it’s important that he become a part of the process if he isn’t already.”
But Mr Sadr asked: “Which political process do you want to involve me in when you are occupying my land?”
He said he would continue resisting the US presence in a “way that we consider suitable”.
He urged the Iraqi government to “rid the land of the occupier” but said his followers should not “raise your weapons against Iraqis as long as they don’t help the occupier”.