Rebel Cleric Asks His Fighters to Lay Down Arms
U.S. and Iraqi interim government officials are working with al-Sadr aides to negotiate an end to the fighting in Basra and Sadr City, a Baghdad slum where 10 people died on Sunday.
The clashes continued throughout the weekend despite a peace deal made in Najaf on Friday that ended three weeks of violence in the holy city.
“This latest initiative shows that we want stability and security in this country by ending all confrontation in all parts of Iraq,” said Sheik Raed al-Khadami, al-Sadr’s spokesman in Baghdad. “Al-Sadr’s office in Najaf will call within the next two days to join the political process.”
The Shiite cleric has not, however, agreed to disband his Mahdi Army militia, as Iraq’s interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi demands.
Meanwhile, oil exports halted Monday after an onslaught of insurgent attacks on Iraq’s pipelines.
On Sunday, the attacks interrupted the oil flow from southern pipelines that make up 90 percent of Iraq’s exports. The pipelines were still on fire Monday, officials told the AP.
A cease in oil flow costs Iraq roughly $60 million a day in lost income at current global crude prices, oil expert Walid Khadduri told the AP.
Prime Minister Allawi condemned the insurgent attacks.
“This is causing a great loss for the Iraqi people in terms of revenues, which could be used in the reconstruction of the country and to pay the people and get the economy back on track again,” Allawi said to CNN on Monday.