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We like to believe -- and newspapers and television like us to believe -- that the battle for Iran is being fought on the streets of Tehran, of Isfahan, of Najafabad Untrue The future of the nation is being decided in Qom, among the clerical leaders of Iranian Shia Islam; and one of the most influential of them -- perhaps the closest of all the ayatollahs to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- is silent.

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A deadly showdown that pitted an al-Qaida-associated organization against Hamas and police troops left at least 13 killed and 85 wounded in the Gaza Strip on Friday, marking the worst day of violence in the region since January's Israeli offensive, according to the BBC.

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Tens of thousands of Iraqis, with remote guidance from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, joined in a demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to implore the Iraqi parliament to reject a security pact with the U.S. before the year's end.

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Despite two major challenges to the US from Iraq on Friday -- in the form of a breakdown in negotiations between the two nations over long-term plans for U involvement there and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's renewed call to arms against U forces in Iraq -- President Bush maintained a positive tone while discussing American-Iraqi relations on the Parisian leg of his current European tour .

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Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr issued a strong warning to the Iraqi government Saturday, claiming that he and his supporters will "declare a war until liberation" if a crackdown against his Mahdi Army continues.

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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.

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Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia to redouble efforts to oust US forces and called on Iraq's army and police to join him The U military, meantime, said 10 American troops were killed over the weekend, including six on Sunday.

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Muqtada al-Sadr may call for a monthlong unilateral cease-fire amid the formation of a new political coalition in Iraq. Sadr is set to meet Thursday with key Shiite political leaders and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss his role, or lack thereof, in the changing political landscape.

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