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Only 'Special Cells' Authorized to Carry Arms- Sadr Aide - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Salah al-Ubaydi, spokesperson for radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has stressed that the movement’s “Special cells is the only party that will be authorized to carry arms.” He added, “All other groups, even those belonging to Al-Sadr Trend, will be banned from carrying out any military actions. However, this does not mean that these groups will be banned from such actions if provocative operations are carried out by the security forces in some regions.”

Al-Ubaydi told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Most Al-Mahdi Army elements will be directed toward ideological, awareness, and cultural resistance. The remaining part, which we call ‘resistance cells’ and which are authorized to carry arms, will pursue the duty of military resistance.” The spokesman added that “Military resistance will remain as long as Iraq is occupied.” Concerning the preparedness of armed cells in terms of armament, training, and tactics, and their ability to attack US bases outside cities, Al-Ubaydi said,” Such information cannot be disclosed because this will affect the operation of these groups. This kind of information can only be revealed by Muqtada al-Sadr, who stressed that these details are top secret and their disclosure will harm the resistance.”

Concerning the possibility of the Al-Sadr Trend taking measures against saboteurs who have infiltrated the Al-Mahdi Army and who were described by Muqtada al-Sadr as “the destroyers of the resistance’s reputation,” the spokesperson told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Most anti-US operations have been carried out by the Al-Mahdi Army supporters. However, the recent clashes with the Iraqi forces were sparked by infiltrators, some of who work for the occupation forces to distort the image of Imam Al-Sadr’s army, while others work for political parties that are known in the political arena and whose goal is to distort the image of Sadrists and the resistance. These people want to say that the Al-Mahdi Army is breaching order, attacking citizens and the security forces, and working toward shaking up security.”

He noted that “continued measures are being imposed against these parties, starting with the decision to freeze the Al-Mahdi Army. This decision has helped halt their activities and has forced them to leave the army.”

Asked about the agreement that was reached between the Al-Mahdi Army and the government in Al-Sadr city, Al-Ubaydi responded by saying, “This agreement still holds, at least as far as we, the Sadrist Trend, are concerned. As for the government, we regretfully say that it has breached the agreement several times, it has not fulfilled many points, and has not even started to implement others.”

He added that, “Despite our initiative to include all governorates within this agreement, the government has showed no compliance in this regard.”

Al-Ubaydi went on to say,” It appears that the security forces are launching operations that target Al-Sadr Trend elements on a central order. Some of our mosque imams have been arrested before or after performing prayers and have been subjected to harm, as was the case under the former regime. This is what happened in Karbala, Al-Diwaniyah, Basra, Al-Amarah, and Dhi Qar.”

“Arrests were unjustifiable. Friday sermon deliverers deliver one or two religious sermons. The only subject that such sermons may raise is the rejection of the agreement reached with the United States. Many parties other than the Sadrist Trend agree on this issue, because this agreement includes items that harm Iraq. Accordingly, imams are being arrested even while delivering their sermons or while performing prayers. Some of these imams have not even discussed the agreement and others were arrested, beaten, and humiliated even before arriving at their mosques, like what happened in Basra.” He added.

For his part, Abdul Latif Rayyan, media adviser to the Multinational Forces in Iraq, said that “the issue of the special cells that the Al-Sadrist Trend plans to form in an effort to resist the US forces falls within the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Government, which monitors all those who carry arms outside government control.” He stressed that “the Iraqi law allows no one but the Iraqi forces to carry arms.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the US forces support the Iraqi Government in this inclination for the sake of imposing the law.”