Iraq: Ayatollah Sistani hints that Parliament should dump al-Maliki as Muqtada mobilizes “Peace Brigades”

The chorus for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq to step down grew louder on Friday, as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf had his representative in Karbala read a Friday prayers sermon in which he called for Parliament to meet and choose a prime minister who can lead a government of national unity. Shaikh Ahmad al-Safi said that the deadline for parliament to meet, 15 days after the certification of the elections, should be strictly adhered to.

The statement did not explicitly call for the unseating of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but it hints pretty broadly that someone else who could actually hold together a government of national unity should be elected by parliament.

At the same time, Muhammad al-Sadr, the son of the founder of the Da`wa Party, called on al-Maliki to step aside.

In contrast, a Da’wa Party official responded to a question about the fatwa by saying that “There is no candidate for prime minister save al-Maliki.”

In a statement on Friday, Sistani’s office issued a clarification of the statement of the previous week that called on young men to enlist in the army. The statement said that the call was directed to all Iraqis, not just the Shiites, and that it had not been intended to help the sectarian militias but only the national army. The new statement asked all Iraqis, especially those living in mixed neighborhoods, to avoid any conflict of a sectarian sort. It also apologized for the inability of the army actually to deal with so many volunteers and urged tha latter to get its act together.

On Saturday morning in Baghdad’s eastern district of Sadr City, a militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was formed and carried out exercises and mounted a spectacle. They called themselves the “Peace Brigades,” and their role is to protect holy sites and houses of worship belonging to all the religious groups of Iraq. Guerrillas of the fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have already destroyed tombs and shrines in Mosul and have threatened to raze Shiite shrines.


Related video:

The Telegraph: “Iraq Shia militias mobilise in face of threat from Sunni-led jihadists”

7 Responses

  1. From an AP article…”20,000 men, many in combat gear, marched through Sadr City with assault rifles, machine guns, multiple rocket launchers, field artillery and missiles. The parades were staged by followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.”

    Twenty thousand, with many more available if they are needed.

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      • While these farsighted actions are needed to deal with many deformities in our political & economic systems caused by the oil economy, it still matters who runs the Middle East. That’s because our idiot bosses globalized everything and propped up the dollar by getting OPEC to monetize it. People at this site think that America is the root of all evil, but whoever bribes or bullies their way into the Middle East after us will have an even shorter road to corruption. Consider if China, allied with Russia & the SCO, corners enough of the world’s energy that it no longer has to pretend to care about world opinion, and can no longer be cowed by sanctions or trade war. Over time it might reveal a very different side to its agenda, just as the US has in the decades after its ascendancy.

        Now of course, a Sino-centric world may work out better than our hegemony in the long run. Just don’t expect standards of human rights or democracy to matter as much as the dead hand of stability. Beijing will look at these matters more the way Rome did, long ago.

  2. As always, you’re ahead of the curve, Dr. Cole. Muqtada has remained in power and in Sadr City since this debacle began. The resilience of the Iraqi people will be the legacy of the past 11 years.

    US out now.

    • I’ve got to admit, I’ve been cheering for that little punk bastard Muqtada since he first started making life miserable for Bush. There was a moment in April 2004 where I thought he and the Sunni guerrillas would reach an informal understanding that would allow them to cut off Bagdad and trap our imperial bureaucracy & criminal contractor army, forcing a panic evacuation a la Saigon. But he saw what they all saw, that he had to play the long game & wait us out. Now might be his time, with the oil sheikhs’ jihadis threatening everyone in the region who dissent from their beliefs. Besides, his movement is as much about poverty and Arab identity as it is religion, and those issues are not the dead ends that oil monarchies and Khomeinism are today.

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