Moqtada Sadr's Back in Town!
Moqtada Sadr, resurfaced in Iraq for the first time in months at Friday prayers, and said his followers would co-operate with Sunnis against US occupation.
Iraq's vice-president, Tarek al-Hashemi, described Mr Sadr as the "number one... the most influential leader" and said he would welcome a new approach to Sunni-Shia relations.
Speaking in the city of Kufa, Sadr blamed foreign troops for Iraq's problems, and said Sunnis and Shias alike should oppose their continued presence in the country. In a characteristically fiery sermon in Kufa, Mr Sadr led the 6,000 worshippers in the mosque in chanting:
No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel.This thug, a demagogue in our eyes, is a demigod in the eyes of the Shiia. But he can't be less credible than our own demagogue-in-chief. He's a genuine Iraqi re-building block. Not the answer but part of the answer. Let's be sure we aren't the ones who kill this would-be golden goose!
I say to our Sunni brothers in Iraq that we are brothers and the occupier divided us in order to weaken the Iraqi people.
In unity is strength, and in division weakness. We say to them, welcome at any time.
I am ready to cooperate with them at all levels. This is my hand I stretch out to them - in so doing, I seek only God's satisfaction.
We want a united and democratic Iraq that does not follow the occupation's agenda.
We signed with them a pledge charter which we hope will be the nucleus of future agreements with other brothers, whether Sunni, Kurdish or otherwise.