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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid