They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Monday, February 13, 2006

Iraqi prime minister tied to anti-U.S. party

IHT: A bitter internal struggle among Shiites to decide on a new prime minister has exposed the growing power of anti-American fundamentalists within the new Iraqi Parliament.

Shiite lawmakers decided by a one-vote margin on Sunday to retain Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister in Iraq's next government.

As the largest single bloc within the new 275-member Parliament, the Shiites have the right to choose a prime minister under Iraq's Constitution, and will now begin negotiating with the leaders of other political groups to fill out Iraq's first full-term, four-year government.

Jaafari, a moderate Islamist, has been widely criticized for being a weak leader over the past year and was considered a long shot to continue in his post. But he defeated his main rival, 64 to 63, in a secret ballot on Sunday morning after gaining support from followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the renegade Shiite cleric who is outspoken in his hostility to the United States.

Sadr's followers now control the largest bloc of seats - 32 out of 130 - within the Shiite alliance. They decided to vote for Jaafari after he promised to help implement their political program, said Bahaa al-Aaraji, a sitting member of Parliament and a spokesman for the Sadr movement.

Aaraji would not say exactly what the prime minister had agreed to. Jaafari may also have benefited from Sadr's longstanding grudge against the religious Shiite party of Jaafari's main rival.

But Jaafari's surprise victory illustrated the growing political power of Sadr, who led two bloody uprisings against the U.S. occupation and interim Iraqi government in 2004, and has made clear that he favors a prompt U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. In recent visits to Iran and Syria, Sadr has expressed solidarity with the leaders of those countries and opposition to U.S. policy toward them.

Sadr also commands the Mahdi Army, a broad-based mil[itia] Link