An attempt to assassinate al-Khafaji; Washington refuses date for ending UN authorization; al-Najaf agreement ends confrontation
Iraq-USA, Politics, 5/28/2004
The Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sader succeeded, at the support of the Shiite reference Ayatullah Ali al-Seistani in forcing the occupation authorities to accept a settlement, that do not meet any of its demands, rather ends the bloody situation in Koufa and Najaf since two months.
Practically any decision to be taken is on desolving al-Mahdi army or trying al-Sader for killing clergy Abdul Majid al-Khouwai until after January 2005 or after handing over authority on June 30. This agreement, however, opened the door for a political role for the Shiite leader ( Muqtada al-Sader) who was once described by the US President George W. Bush as " Highjacker." The agreement was finalized on late Wednesday evening between al-Sader and the Shiite religious and political leaderships, through negotiations. One of al-Seistani's assistants, Hamid al-Khaffaj, said it was held at the house and blessing of al-Seistani.
The agreement states that the Iraqi resistance men who came from outside Najaf province will leave it and return back to their villages. On the other hand, the occupation forces will withdraw back to their bases and headquarters and to remain in the governmental building and the governorate headquarters, and the local police to be responsible for security missions. However, the future of al-Mahdi army and the judicial case filed against al-Sader will be discussed during " the next dialogue" between the resistance leaders and a committee to be formed of religious and political figures.
Member of the governing council Ahmad Chalabi quoted al-Sader as saying that al-Mahdi army will be converted into a political organization. A matter which opens the door for the Shiite leader to play a political role. However, al-Sader's Intifada led to the killing of 21 American soldiers and the killing of 352 Iraqi resistance men.
Meantime, one of the aides of member of the governing council, Salamah al-Khaffaji, Taleb Rasoul, said that al-Khaffaji yesterday survived an assassination attempt that resulted in killing three of her guards.
Rasoul explained that gunmen placed an ambush for al-Khaffaji procession, which is composed of three cars in al-Yousefeyah village, while she was coming back to Baghdad from Najaf where she took part in the efforts resulted in attaining an agreement between al-Sader and the occupation authority. Taleb said he got the information from al-Khafaji guards within her procession when the ambush took place.
Member of the governing council, Mahmoud Othman, said that al-Khafaji's son was with her in the process is missing. News reports said that her son Ahmad drowned when his car fell in a nearby river when his mother's procession was ambushed.
Al-Khaffaji was appointed in the governing council in the place of Aqeila al-Hashimi who was assassinated in December 2003 in front of her house in Baghdad.
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