(Photo credit: Middle East news)
The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, called for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, while also blaming US policy for the crisis.
“[Ukraine is suffering] under the deadly Russian weapons … because of US policy there,” Sadr said during his sermon in Najaf province on 4 March.
The Shia cleric added that “the suffering of people and civilians in Ukraine affects us on the humanitarian level, and international organizations must demand a truce to put an end to the suffering on both sides and to deliver food and medical supplies to people as soon as possible.”
He also called on Moscow to “reconsider its decision of war and to work seriously for dialogue with its neighbor Ukraine.”
Earlier this week, Iraq was one of 35 countries that abstained during a vote by the UN General Assembly demanding that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine.
In recent days, several regional leaders have spoken out against US provocations that have led to the conflict in Ukraine.
On 1 March, the leader of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said during a televised speech that “Washington has done everything to push for the current scenario … the US is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine and pushed it in this direction.”
On the same day, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Bashar al-Jaafari said the conflict in Ukraine was instigated by Washington in order to prevent Russian gas supply to Europe, and that one of the reasons behind the Syrian war was “the refusal [by Damascus] to extend the Qatari gas pipeline to Europe via Turkey.”
Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has offered to assist in a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in east Europe, saying on 27 February: “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports any effort that would lead to peaceful settlement of the [ongoing] conflict in Ukraine and is ready to play a role to help restore peace in any possible manner.”
Russia launched a special military operation aimed at protecting the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine on 24 February.
The Donbass republics seceded from Ukraine in 2014 following a US-backed coup that saw the incumbent government overthrown in favor of a pro-NATO, anti-Russia government.
The Donbass republics have reported regular shelling of their territory by the Ukrainian army since 2014 and have consistently petitioned the Russian government to recognize the independence of their region and to offer them military protection.