(Photo credit: Reuters)
The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, ordered his supporters to end their siege of Baghdad’s Green Zone district on the afternoon of 30 August, giving them 60 minutes to leave the streets, saying that not even a sit-in demonstration would be allowed.
Muqtada al-Sadr gave his supporters 60 minutes to evacuate the streets.
He called himself an "ordinary citizen" and then disavowed his own militia, Saraya al-Salam, calling them "shameless"
VIDEO: Sadrists leaving the Green Zone pic.twitter.com/zxcV46iQrp
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Al-Sadr also offered an apology to the Iraqi people for the violence that erupted on Monday, which left dozens dead and hundreds injured.
“This is not a revolution [any more] because it has lost its peaceful character,” Al-Sadr said in a televised address, adding that “the spilling of Iraqi blood is forbidden.”
The influential Shia cleric then thanked the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi – for not taking part in the clashes.
“Thanks for the members of the PMU, their members have nothing to do with this [these clashes] … PMU members would never shoot one bullet at the sons of their country,” Al-Sadr said, contradicting western media reports that claimed the PMU was fighting against the Sadrists.
The Sadrist leader went on to condemn his own militia, the Saraya al-Salam, calling them “shameless” and said that “those killing and those killed in the past days are all in hell.”
Finally, Al-Sadr reiterated his latest retirement from Iraqi politics, saying it is a “legitimate and final retirement based on the order of the religious Jurist Kazem al-Haeri,” and then referred to himself as an “ordinary citizen.”
Al-Sadr first “retired” from politics earlier this year, after months of failing to form a majority government that excluded other Shia political parties. His failure came despite winning last year’s anticipated elections by a landslide.
The Sadrist leader went on to spend the following weeks agitating his followers into seizing government institutions to demand the dissolution of parliament.
His tactics eventually devolved into this week’s violent clashes, which coincided with Kazem al-Haeri ordering his followers – most of whom are Sadrists – to follow the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, instead of Al-Sadr.
Following the end of the violence on Tuesday, Iraqi authorities announced the end of a nationwide curfew.
Iraqi political figures also praised Al-Sadr for putting an end to the conflict, chief among them those from the rival Coordination Framework (CF).
“Al-Sadr’s position in defusing the crisis has proven his loyalty and keenness on Iraq, in addition to having aborted the external interference that nearly ravaged the country,” a spokesperson for the Fatah Alliance told Shafaq News.