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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs