IP enters Imam Ali shrine peacefully and Sadr is still not found.
News are still foggy but Al-Hurra TV reported that 400 members of Mehdi militia were arrested inside the shrine.
In another related development Radio Sawa reported this afternoon that Al-Sistani from London gave an interview to a news website (link unavailable).
The reporter of Radio Sawa said :
Al-Sistani called the militias to leave Najaf immediately and hand over the city to the Iraqi government describing the presence of militias as illegitimate and that the presence these militias inside the shrine is desecrating its holiness.
Sistani had also stressed on the necessity to hold the elections according to the declared schedule saying that the results of the elections will decide who has the right to lead Iraq.
Sistani added “the coalition forces came and helped Iraqis to get rid of a brutal tyrant that murdered Iraqis and destroyed Iraq’s economy and they didn’t come to kill Muslims or attack Islam”.
This is almost too good to be true but Radio Sawa was always considered as a trust worthy source of information and I just hope that this is true as we’ve awaited such an announcement for a long time. It will deprive Muqtada of any significant legitimacy or credibility among the She’at if he had any previously. Muqtada and his thugs were dreaming to get support or at least silence from the She’at senior clerics. Now Muqtada is left with very little space to maneuver in; Sistani’s statement had put Muqtada in-between two hard choices either handing the city to the government and accepting the fact that he got defeated or he can go on with his crazy battle and get erased together with his militia.
This is important even with these breaking news. Such statements will greatly minimize any unfavorable sequel that may come after military operations due to a possible sympathy from simple minded Muslims towards an “Islamic movement” being destroyed by the government and the coalition forces.