As the clashes between Shiite militias and Coalition forces that left hundreds of Iraqis dead over the past four days continued, Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi yesterday announced a partial amnesty for resistance fighters.
Allawi announced that people who engaged in minor crimes against the state would be pardoned if they surrender. Allawi also declared during the press conference yesterday that there was no reason to declare a state of emergency in Iraq, as the administration had the situation under control.
Allawi disclosed that he had received warm messages from radical Shiite leader Moqtada Al Sadr. The Interim Prime Minister claimed that the militants clashing with US forces in Najaf were not connected to Sadr. Allawi said he hopes that Sadr will participate in the upcoming elections.
Regarding the amnesty, Allawi explained that it would benefit those who had weapons at home or who had engaged in small scale resistance activities such as gun smuggling. Allawi said that those who wanted amnesty would have 30 days to turn themselves in. The amnesty would not apply to those who had engaged in major crimes such as murder, rape, or damaging public buildings.
"This law has been prepared for people, who committed small crimes but have not been arrested yet," indicated Allawi. "With this, we aim to give our people the right to participate in contributing to the country's reconstruction."
Allawi Shuts Al Jazeera Down to 'Protect Iraqis'
Prime Minister Allawi announced that he decided to shut down Al Jazeera television's Baghdad office for a month because the station reportedly encouraged the activities of criminals and gangsters in the country. Allawi said that a commission had been watching Al Jazeera for several weeks and had determined that the station should be closed down in order to "protect the Iraqi people".
Last week Al Jazeera broadcast a video of Turkish drivers saying that they were released because their companies ceased their operations in Iraq. This bothered Iraqi administration. Al Jazeera spokesman Cihad Ballout said they found the decision 'sad and unjust'.
Meanwhile, the skirmishes that began four days ago in the Shiite regions continued yesterday. Seven people reportedly died in fighting between American forces and Shiite militias in Baghdad's Sadr City.
Clashes between American forces and militias connected to Moqtada Al Sadr also resumed in Najaf. An official in the city hospital said that 19 dead and 71 wounded have been brought to the hospital since the clashes started. Three American soldiers reportedly died in yesterday's skirmishes.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Cafari criticized the US, saying that killing 300 militias during skirmishes in Najaf was not a 'civilized method' of restructuring the country.