Muqtada al-Sadr calls for expelling U.S. ambassador from Iraq

Muqtada al-Sadr calls for expelling U.S. ambassador from Iraq

Shafaq News/ Iraq's powerful Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, on Tuesday called for expelling the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, citing Washington's support for Israel and what he termed "American arrogance and injustice."

Al-Sadr, known for his populist rhetoric, made those remarks in a post on X earlier today, accusing Israel of being a "colonial entity" that dispossessed Palestinians and seeks regional expansion. He attributed this to "unfettered American support."

"Therefore, I reiterate my demand for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador through established diplomatic channels," al-Sadr said. "This, without bloodshed, would demonstrate our civility and peacefulness in the face of their aggression and arrogance. It would be a more potent deterrent than using force, which could give them a pretext to destabilize Iraq."

The maverick leader urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to take a more active role in stopping the "massacres and violations" against Palestinians in Gaza by Israel. "Enough of silence," he said.

Once-dominant political force in Iraq, al-Sadr intends to reclaim his seat atop the country's governmental hierarchy, reportedly already prepping his populist electoral machine for his eventual return. 

He rose to prominence after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He formed an armed group that fought U.S. troops. He led two anti-U.S. revolts, prompting the Pentagon to call his Mehdi Army the biggest threat to Iraq's security.

In Iraq's sectarian 2006-2008 civil war, the Mehdi Army was accused of forming death squads that kidnapped and killed Sunni Muslims. Al-Sadr disavowed violence against fellow Iraqis.

In 2008, after clashing with the Iraqi army, he disbanded the Mehdi Army, renaming it the Peace Brigades.

Al-Sadr has opposed Iranian influence in Iraq, setting him apart from other Shiite leaders who have close ties to Tehran. He has also called for the departure of the last remaining U.S. troops in Iraq. 

Historically, al-Sadr has been aligned with neither Iran nor the U.S., the two traditional powerbrokers in Iraq over the last two decades. Nonetheless, observers believe the Islamic Republic desires to see al-Sadr strengthen Shiite control over Iraq, while the U.S. is similarly more favorable to coalitions harboring anti-Iran sentiments like the Sadrist Movement.

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