Al Sadr orders militias to suspend activities to defuse tension in Basra, Iraq
Prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered armed groups under his control to suspend their activities in almost the entire country in order not to increase tensions after weeks of heavy clashes in Basra province between the cleric’s forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of pro-Iranian militias.
A statement issued by the cleric’s unofficial spokesman, Sali Mohamed al Iraqi, specifically condemned the League of the Righteous (Asaib Ahl al Haq or AAH) militia, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, for the disturbances.”They don’t know the slightest respect. They only know terrorism, money and power”, denounced Al Iraqi in a statement picked up by the Kurdish news agency Rudaw, where he points out that Al Sadr’s order is also aimed at ensuring that his militias are not accused of “sedition”.
Among the militias affected by Al Sadr’s order is the most prominent of all, the Companies for Peace (Saraya al Salam), founded by the cleric himself in 2014 and considered as a renewed version of the Mahdi Army, the armed force under the orders of the cleric who starred in 2003 in some of the most intense battles of the Iraq war against the U.S. forces that invaded the country.Iraq has been the scene in recent days of new mobilizations, coinciding with the third anniversary of the protests of October 2019, which resulted in at least 600 deaths across the country due to the reaction of the Iraqi Police and pro-Iranian militias. The protests were active for several months to demand an end to the system of government in place since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, an end to corruption, better basic services and employment.The protests led to the resignation of the then prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, who was replaced – after the rejection of several nominees – by Mostafa al-Kazemi, who initiated a series of reforms and called for early elections, held on October 10, 2021.