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The militia leader's threat of an "open war" between his supporters and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government has ratcheted up tensions in Basra and Baghdad. [In this analysis, columnist Patrick Cockburn of The Independent looks into the current situation in light of Sadr's history with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.]

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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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