MON 17 - 2 - 2020
Feb 1, 2020
The Daily Star
Sistani condemns use of force against protest camps, urges early election
Nadine Awadalla & John Davison| Reuters
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s leading Shiite peacher, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Friday condemned the use of force to disperse protest camps across the country, as security forces stepped up a crackdown against demonstrators. Protesters across Iraq are seeking the removal of what they see as a corrupt ruling elite and an end to foreign interference in Iraqi politics, especially by Iran, which has come to dominate state institutions since dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Nearly 500 people have been killed in the unrest that began in October, with both security forces and unidentified gunmen shooting people dead. At least 11 have been killed since the protests resumed earlier this month.
Sistani, who delivered his message through a representative at Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala, also renewed calls for early elections to be held freely and fairly.
“It is imperative to hurry and hold an early election for the people to have their say, and for the next Parliament to be formed from their free will, to take the necessary steps toward reform,” he said.
He said that the next Parliament would be able “to take decisive measures that will determine the future of the country, especially regarding the preservation of its sovereignty and the independence of its political decisions.”
Separately, populist Iraqi preacher Moqtada al-Sadr Friday called for a mass protest in the capital Baghdad and for sit-ins near the fortified Green Zone to protest the delayed formation of a government, without specifying when the gatherings should take place.
“I find that it is beneficial to renew the peaceful reformist revolution,” Sadr said in a statement Friday.
Iraq has been without a government since Dec. 1, when Parliament accepted Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi’s resignation after weeks of violent anti-government protests. He has, however, stayed on in a caretaker capacity until a new government is chosen.
Sadr, who has millions of supporters in the capital and in the south, had backed the demands of protesters for the removal of corrupt politicians and for the provision of services and jobs soon after the demonstrations began in October. But he stopped short of calling all his followers to join in.
His supporters had previously bolstered the protesters and sometimes helped shield them from attacks by security forces and unidentified gunmen. They withdrew from the main sit-in camps last week at his request.
Tensions in Iraq boiled over when the United States killed Iranian military mastermind Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Iran responded with ballistic missile attacks on two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops.
Baghdad condemned both the killing of Soleimani and Iran’s missile attacks on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops as acts of aggression on Iraq and a breach of its sovereignty.
Sistani also “strongly condemned” U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
“The religious authority condemns strongly the oppressive plan that has been unveiled recently to legitimize the occupation of more Palestinian lands,” Sistani said.
Readers Comments (0)
Add your comment
Enter the security code below
Can't read this?
Iraqi authorities reopen Baghdad bridge shut for months by protests
Hezbollah steps in to guide Iraqi militias in Soleimani's wake
In Iraq, protesters in last stand against a former ally
Iraq protest camps splinter over cleric's backing of new PM
In death, Soleimani bequeaths perilous dilemma for Iraq
The Iraqi people cry out for unity
The stalled effort to expel United States troops from Iraq
Could Turkey Moderate Iran's Influence Over Iraq?
Iraqi Kurdistan’s saga of executive offices in transition
A fractured Iraqi Cabinet: Abdel-Mahdi facing uphill battle
Copyright 2020 . All rights reserved