Iraq’s Sadrists blame Iran allies for deaths amid violent unrest

Baghdad, Aug 31 (EFE).- The Sadrist movement led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday blamed an Iran-allied Iraqi political bloc for recent violent clashes that left 35 people dead.

In a statement, Saleh al-Iraqi, the spokesman for the Sadrists, told Iran to “rein in its camel” in Iraq, in reference to the Coordination Framework bloc.

“The Coordination Framework continues to convene parliament to form (their impudent government), while the blood of the peaceful protesters killed by their militia’s dirty bullets has not dried yet,” al-Iraqi said.

If the Coordination Framework, which brings together several Tehran-allied Shiite parties, does not declare mourning for victims, it will make an enemy out of the Sadrist movement, al-Iraqi warned.

On Tuesday, calm returned to Iraq after deadly clashes that led to widespread fears the Arab country could descend into civil war due to the months-long political stalemate.

Violence broke out on Monday following al-Sadr announced he is retiring from Iraqi politics, leading thousands of his loyalists to storm the presidential palace in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

Prior to Monday, al-Sadr’s supporters had twice breached parliament – located, like the presidential palace, inside the Green Zone.

Seeking to interrupt the nomination of a new prime minister, they set up a camp outside the building in early August that prevented legislators from meeting.

Al-Sadr’s bloc secured 73 seats in the 329-strong parliament in elections in October last year.

But that was well short of a majority and gridlock ensued, with the Sadrists at loggerheads not only with Kurdish parties but also with other Shiite groupings with close ties to Iran.

Amid the deadlock, Sadrist lawmakers all resigned in June and since then the cleric has mobilized his supporters in the streets.

The protests ended on Tuesday after al-Sadr ordered his followers to leave their sit-in and withdraw from the Green Zone.

Neighboring Iran, meanwhile, on Wednesday called for dialogue in Iraq and said that it expects all political groups and factions to take part in the government formation process.

In an address to the nation, Iraqi president Barham Saleh stressed that holding early elections would be a better solution than sliding into political confrontations, conflicts and rivalry.EFE


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