Thursday, April 15, 2004

Not so keen on going to paradise anymore? 

Only yesterday he was still ready for martyrdom. "I say to Iraqis, don't consider my death as an end to your efforts to call for freedom and spreading Islam in the world. I say, as my father did: My body is not important," the Shia leader was proclaiming.

Now, "The Daily Telegraph" reports that "Moqtada al-Sadr, who raised the standard of anti-American revolt 12 days ago, sent out envoys from the holy city of Najaf carrying his peace terms."

Al Sadr's spokesman, Karim al Anzi, is quoted as saying: "Moqtada made positive proposals to end the crisis... I cannot disclose the details. He realises that an armed confrontation is not in anybody's interest."

Does he know?

Al Anzi doesn't want to disclose any details but the paper reports that "sources close to the cleric [al Sadr] said he had dropped his demand that American forces pull back from Najaf and release prisoners before he would enter talks."

It must be the realisation on the part of the US that they are getting sucked deeper and deeper into a Vietnam-style quagmire, that is finally bringing both sides to the negotiating table.

Or it could be the fact that a "2,500-strong U.S. force, backed by tanks and artillery, [has] massed on the outskirts of Najaf for a showdown."


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