Muqtada al-Sadr (file photo)
30 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A top Sunni Arab negotiator in Iraq today called on a Shi'ite cleric to join a coalition to defeat the Iraqi constitution in the 15 October referendum.
Saleh al-Mutlaq said he was ready to open talks with the movement of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and what he called "other national forces" to generate public support for defeating the charter.
Sunnis fear federalism -- as proposed in the document -- will lead to the break-up of Iraq into a Kurdish north and a Shi'ite south.
Al-Sadr has also opposed constitutional provisions to establish federated states in Iraq, but is under pressure from mainstream Shi'a to support the charter.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said it launched airstrikes today against suspected Al-Qaeda hideouts near the western Iraqi town of Qaim, killing what it called "a known terrorist" and several of his associates.
It was not immediately clear how many people were killed in the strikes. News reports said at least 35 were killed today in the area.
(AP/Reuters/AFP)For RFE/RL's full coverage of developments in Iraq, see "The New Iraq"