Shi'ite Cleric Sadr warns of ‘dark end’ in Iraq, following deadly protests

Published February 13th, 2017 - 10:00 GMT
Head of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr. (AFP/File)
Head of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr. (AFP/File)

Head of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr warned on Sunday of a “dark end” in Iraq, after at least eight people were killed and hundreds were injured when confrontations erupted between his supporters and security forces during a protest held in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square to demand an overhaul of a commission that supervises elections ahead of a provincial poll due in September.

As a response to the Katyusha rockets that hit the fortified Green Zone and its surroundings on Saturday evening, Sadr wrote on his Twitter account: “If any of my followers resorts to violence and does not withdraw or engages in an act of sabotage to put security in Baghdad or Iraq in jeopardy, I disavow it.”

Security sources said the rockets seem to have been fired from Baladiyat, a district where Sadr has a lot of followers. However, Sadr denies the claims.

Sadr issued another statement later on Sunday warning of a “dark end to our Iraq, our beloved nation, and our proud people.”

Reactions to Iraq’s latest security developments continued to emerge on Sunday.

The Islamic Dawa Party of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused Sadr supporters of launching the rockets on several areas in Baghdad.

In a statement, the party also accused Sadr without naming him of trying to “distract the Iraqi people in sedition to prevent the efforts to get rid of ISIS.”

Sadr has not replied to the Dawa party accusations and their calls for Sadrists to halt violence, but he called on “politicians who claim they support democracies to stop issuing provocative and impertinent statements until investigations are complete to reveal the wrongdoer.”

Earlier, Iraqi President Fuad Masum ordered an investigation into the violence and called on the legislative authority to take the demands of the protestors into consideration.

Masum announced on Saturday the completion of a draft regarding the election law, a key demand of the protesters, in consultations with various parliamentary factions, and hoped that the MPs would pass it soon.

The central committee supervising popular demonstrations said in a press conference held on Sunday and attended by Asharq Al-Awsat that 8 people were killed and more than 300 were injured in Saturday’s demonstrations. The committee accused Iraqi security forces of standing behind the clashes with protestors.


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