Al-Sadr urges al-Kadhimi rein in "al-Khazali's militia", calls a sub-total freeze on loyal paramilitary

Al-Sadr urges al-Kadhimi rein in "al-Khazali's militia", calls a sub-total freeze on loyal paramilitary

Shafaq News/ Powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr declared a sub-total moratorium on an armed faction affiliated with his political party, and urged caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to rein in the "impudent militias of Qais", in reference to the leader of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq movement, Qais al-Khazali.

Mohammed Salih al-Iraqi, who runs a Twitter account named "the leader's Minister" and is widely believed to be al-Sadr's mouthpiece, said in a statement quoting the populist leader, "the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces must rein in the impudent militias of Qais and its ilks. It only knows terrorism, money, and authority."

"In our turn, in order to fend off strife, we freeze all the armed factions -if there are any- including Saraya al-Salam, and ban using arms in all the governorates except in Saladin (Samarra and its surrounding) or in accordance with directives of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces," he added. 

Al-Iraqi said that further measures will follow, "for terrorizing and scaring the civilians is forbidden and banned, and infighting is forbidden and banned."

Violence erupted in southern Iraq in the early hours of 4 October, as over a dozen Katyusha rockets were launched at a headquarters of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces-PMF) in the city of Basra.

Local sources said that Saraya al-Salam were behind the attack, as they allegedly sought revenge for the killing of one of their members by the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. 

Mere hours before Tuesday's attack in Basra, protesters in the city of Nasiriyah in the southern Dhi Qar province set fire to the local government headquarters by throwing Molotov cocktails at it.

This was followed by clashes between the protesters and security forces. Local authorities imposed a curfew in response to the violence and ordered the arrest of the leaders of the armed groups.

Iraq has been mired in a political crisis since last October’s elections, when the Sadrist bloc took home a resounding victory, leaving Iran-loyal parties in the dust.

However, in the intervening months, al-Sadr failed to achieve his goal of forming a "majority government" that excluded other Shia parties – which came together as the Coordination Framework (CF) – despite forging a coalition with the Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

Al-Sadr's failures eventually led him to withdraw all of his lawmakers from parliament commanded them to take over government buildings to demand the dissolution of parliament and a new round of elections.

Following August's violence in Baghdad's Green Zone, and after losing the support of a major Shiite scholar, al-Sadr was forced to announce his "final retirement" from politics – marking his second retirement of 2022 and ninth overall.

Regardless of this, Sadrist groups attempted to storm the Iraqi parliament just last week, hoping to stop a session to discuss the proposed resignation of Speaker Mohammad al-Halboosi, a former ally of Sadr.

Moreover, last month the head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, announced that the CF agreed to hold early elections in a show of good faith to the Sadrists.

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