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Politics And Military

* Resurfacing Shock and Awe, why is this different?  Ali Behrooz

* Mr President, Barack Obama,  Ali Behrooz

* Iran’s Conservatives Are Deceiving Themselves  Tariq Alhomayed

* Just When it Ends in Basra, it Begins in Mosul!  Huda al Husseini

* Putin promises Iran continuity in relations: RIA  News Report

* New U.S. carrier in Gulf a 'reminder' to Iran: Gates  News Report

* Iran displays 1800 km-range missile  News Report

* U.S., Iraqi Forces Continue to Battle in Sadr City  News Report

* Iran Top Threat To Iraq, U.S. Says  News Report

* Sadr not U.S. enemy if he sticks to politics: Gates  News Report

* British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes  News Report

* Pakistan Mulls Talking with Terrorists  News Report

* Shia leader tries to contain militia  News Report

* Bush to maintain Iraq troop numbers  News Report

* McCain doesn't rule out preemptive war  News Report

* Winds of Change  Pablo Ouziel

* Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010  News Report

* Iran helped end Iraq fighting: Iraq party adviser  News Report

* McCain's "war on terror" remix  News Report

* Saudi Arabia's justice minister departs for Tehran  News Report

* Deployment of Foreign Troops an Insult to Regional States  News Report

* Gun-shy America is losing the best chance to stop Iran  News Report

* Khatami rallies Iran reformists  News Report

* Iran says will soon hold talks with U.S. on Iraq  News Report

* Iran says has built new long-range missile  News Report

* U.S. military in Iraq says to release 9 Iranians  News Report

* U.S. sees decline in Iran-linked bombs found in Iraq  News Report

* Russia and China fall in line on Iran  News Report

* Iran letter sparks new fight between Clinton, Obama  News Report

* Bombing Iran will ensure world peace  News Report

* King Abdullah flies in to lecture us on terrorism  Robert Fisk

* Ahmadinejad to Visit S. Arabia mid Nov.  News Report

* Iranian Guard 'ready to defend revolution'  News Report

* Iran to give crushing response to possible attacks: minister  News Report

* Bush: Missile shield is meant to deter Iran  News Report

* Iran Accuses US of Manufacturing Genetic Weapons  News Report

* Blair: Terror threat like fascism  Tony Blair

* US arrogant attitudes pave way for 'World War III': Cleric  News Report

* Russia’s Putin hunts diplomatic solution in Iran  News Report

* Clinton says she would negotiate with Iran if elected president  News Report

* Britain 'on board' for US strikes on Iran  News Report

* Iran, sanctions and the rumours of war  News Report

* No Iran strike plans, says Blair  Tony Blair

* Gates: Diplomatic efforts to counter Iranian nuclear program are working  News Report

* McCain Jokes About Bombing Iran  Liz Sidoti

* Tehran expects update on cases of two Iranians murdered in France: MP  News Report

* Iran is not a safe haven for terrorists  News Report

* Iran at threat?  News Report

* Iran trying to recruit Israeli spies  News Report

* Iran: Signals on 5 Diplomats  News Report


Sadr not U.S. enemy if he sticks to politics: Gates
[ News Report]  [2008-04-12 06:35:36]
[Source: Reuters - 11/04/08]


By Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will not be treated as an enemy of the United States if he plays a peaceful role in Iraqi politics, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.

Gates also insisted he and top U.S. military chiefs agreed with President George W. Bush's policy of indefinitely freezing troop reductions from Iraq starting this summer, despite some differences in their public comments.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have been fighting intense battles with members of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia in recent weeks. But U.S. officials have described the fighters as rogue elements within the group, which is formally observing a cease-fire.

"Those who are prepared to work within the political process in Iraq, and peacefully, are not enemies of the United States," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.

Gates said he would be surprised if Sadr, widely believed to be in Iran, were arrested if he returned to Iraq.

"He is a significant political figure," Gates said. "We want him to work within the political process in Iraq. He has a large following. And I think it's important that he become a part of the process if he isn't already."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki cracked down last month against Mehdi Army fighters in the southern city of Basra. The operation sparked fighting in both Basra and Baghdad's Shi'ite slum of Sadr City.

U.S. officials have accused Iran of supporting the so-called "special groups" of rogue Mehdi Army fighters. Iran has denied involvement, blaming Iraqi violence on the presence of U.S. troops.

"SAME PAGE"

Gates said he was not only on the "same page" as Bush on Iraq but also on the "same line (and) same word." He said the policy was "unanimously endorsed by our nation's top uniformed officers and civilian leaders, myself included."

While Bush and the top commander in Iraq, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, have avoided saying how long the freeze in troop cuts may last, Gates has said he hopes it will be brief.

Gates has used the term "pause" to describe the troop freeze, while Bush has said the term is misleading because it implies operations in Iraq will also be suspended.

Gates said on Friday he expects Petraeus to say whether he can recommend more reductions after an initial 45-day freeze, likely to begin at the end of July, when the United States will have withdrawn about 20,000 troops.

Petraeus had appeared to suggest a longer timeline, telling Congress this week he would start assessing whether more troops could be withdrawn only after the end of the 45-day period.

But he said on Friday he was already looking at prospects for withdrawals.

"There's every intention to continue that process of assessment during the 45-day period of consolidation and evaluation so that ... conditions permitting, there could be a recommendation right at the end of that period," he said.

"Or it could be that you again say we've got to wait a little bit longer," he told reporters at the Pentagon.

The United States now has some 160,000 troops in Iraq.

The differences in public comments provoked talk of a rift between the Pentagon, eager to reduce stress on U.S. ground forces and send more troops to Afghanistan, and Bush and Petraeus, focused on success in Iraq.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Xavier Briand and Alan Elsner)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.





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