News / Middle East

Sadrists Call for New Elections in Iraq

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (L) - whose political party called December 26, 2011, for dissolution of Iraq's parliament and new elections in another move that could escalate country's growing sectarian crisis - steps from an office building in Najaf, Ira
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (L) - whose political party called December 26, 2011, for dissolution of Iraq's parliament and new elections in another move that could escalate country's growing sectarian crisis - steps from an office building in Najaf, Ira

A Look at Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr

  • Al-Sadr was born in the early 1970s. He is the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq Sadr. His father and two of his brothers were killed in 1999, reportedly by Iraqi agents.
  • The family leads a radical Shi'ite movement that finds its roots among the poor. The family has a lineage it says can be traced directly to the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Al-Sadr became a vocal critic of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion. He founded the Medhi Army militia which, by his design, was to protect the Shi'ite population in the holy city of Najaf. The Medhi Army had frequent skirmishes with U.S. forces.
  • Al-Sadr went into self-imposed exile in Iran in 2007, around the time that former U.S. President George W. Bush ordered a "surge" in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, to combat escalating violence.
  • Al-Sadr returned to Iraq in January 2011 and used his first speech in his home country to call for an end to the American occupation.
  • Although al-Sadr does not hold a government position, his Sadrist political bloc is part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition government.

The Iraqi political bloc led by anti-American Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a call to dissolve Iraq's parliament and hold early elections, in a move that could escalate the country's growing sectarian crisis.

The Sadrists said Monday that new elections are the only way to resolve Iraq's deepening political problems because the current government "cannot find solutions" for the issues that "threaten to divide" the country.

Tensions are rising after Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on suspicion of running a death squad. Hashemi denies the charge and fled to northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region to avoid detention. Maliki also asked parliament to fire Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The political crisis comes amid a wave of attacks on the capital, Baghdad, by suspected al-Qaida-linked Sunni extremists.

Al-Qaida's front group in the country, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility Monday for a series of bombings that killed about 70 people Thursday - the deadliest day in Iraq for months.

The violence continued Monday as a suicide bomber set off a car bomb outside the Interior ministry. The blast killed seven people and wounded more than 30. Officials said five policemen were among the dead.

Baghdad Explosion Map

The recent violence has raised concerns about the Iraqi government's ability to secure the country as it tries to resolve a political crisis that erupted as the U.S. military completed a troop pullout earlier this month.

Maliki has threatened to form a government without Hashemi's mainly Sunni-backed political party, Iraqiya, which is boycotting parliament and considering whether to pull out of the national unity government.

The leaders of Iraq's Sunni minority have complained the Iraqi prime minister is monopolizing power in the hands of majority Shi'ites and excluding Sunnis from decision-making.

Related video from Iraq

Support from the Sadrist bloc helped Maliki to a second term following nine months of political infighting after an inconclusive election in March 2010. The latest turmoil threatens to wreck Iraq's fragile power-sharing deal that divides positions among the Shi'ite National Alliance, Iraqiya and the Kurdish bloc.

On Sunday, Iraq moved closer to defusing a standoff between the government and 3,400 Iranian dissidents living in a camp northeast of Baghdad. The United Nations and the Iraqi government signed a deal to relocate the residents of Camp Ashraf to a temporary location while their refugee status is determined.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the residents will be moved to Camp Liberty, the former U.S. military base near the Baghdad International Airport. She welcomed the arrangement, saying it represents “significant progress on this issue.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the deal, which he said is the beginning of a peaceful and durable solution that respects both Iraq and its human rights obligations.

The exiles are members of a paramilitary group that has tried to topple Iran's government and is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid