RealNews

Iraqi moderates under pressure

In taking on Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and his emboldened militia, the U.S.-led forces in Iraq are betting on two things: that Sadr’s fighters do not forge a broad operational link with the mostly Sunni guerrillas battling the occupation, and that the majority Shiites do not abandon their moderate leaders and join Sadr’s call for armed uprising. On both fronts, some Iraqi and American analysts contend, the odds may be turning against the United States. Civilian deaths in mostly Sunni Fallujah have brought cries of protest from sympathetic Shiites, while Sunni militants have cheered the attacks on occupation troops by Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army. Left on the sidelines are the more moderate Shiite political and religious leaders. Unnerved by Sadr but loath to be seen as American stooges, they have confined themselves to some sharply worded appeals for calm. But pressure is increasing on moderates to denounce the occupation, analysts said. Full Story

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