Shi'ite rival to Iraq's al-Sadr slammed for US visit

An imam with ties to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday criticized a rival leader's recent visit to Washington, calling it an act of "surrender." Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a follower of Sadr, told worshippers at the Kufa mosque that Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's meeting with US President George W. Bush in Washington on November 27 was a mistake. "Whatever the pretext is, going to the head of tyranny and to the US is a kind of surrender," Obeidi said. Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council, the largest Shi'ite political party, and Sadr agreed two months ago to end a bitter rivalry that had ignited armed clashes and assassinations between their followers in the oil-rich south.