(Photo credit: AP)
The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has postponed a so-called “multi-million march” that was scheduled to take place on 20 August.
Via a message on Twitter posted on 16 August, the influential political leader said that “for the love of Iraq and love for its people and its sanctities,” he was postponing the demonstration “until further notice.”
— مقتدى السيد محمد الصدر (@Mu_AlSadr) August 16, 2022
“If you are waiting for a civil war to erupt, then I am willing to preserve civil peace,” Al-Sadr added, referring to plans by the Coordination Framework (CF) to hold counterprotests.
Al-Sadr also said the CF “imitated” his plan, and that this “proves your bankruptcy and insistence on being corrupt.”
On Saturday, the Sadrist leader called for his followers to mobilize en masse, calling it “an obligation to inquire which camp enjoys more support and compassion among the Iraqis.”
“A ‘peaceful’ ‘million’ unified demonstration from all the governorates, territories, villages, neighborhoods, allies, and houses of Iraq to the beloved Baghdad, the Tahrir square,” his call for mobilizations added.
Al-Sadr and CF leaders have been facing off against each other since last October’s controversial elections, when Sadrists won by a landslide.
Al-Sadr’s quest to form what he called a “majority government” – that is, without the involvement of the CF – proved to be fruitless, as he tried and failed several times to secure enough votes with Sunni and Kurdish groups.
In a drastic move, all Sadrist lawmakers resigned in June under Al-Sadr’s instructions. The cleric then announced his own retirement from Iraqi politics, allowing the CF to takeover negotiations to form a government.
However, since then he has mobilized his supporters by the hundreds of thousands. Last month, hundreds of Sadrists occupied parliament, with dozens still holding a sit-in protest outside the building.
These tactics have prevented Iraqi lawmakers from meeting, as Al-Sadr also issued a threat against the judiciary last week, demanding they dissolve parliament.