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Al Sadr Secretly Flies to Iran, Shocking Supporters | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Followers of Iraq’s Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building after they stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq April 30

Baghdad- Amidst the rising political crisis in Iraq, Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shi’ite cleric, managed to throw his Green Zone protesting supporters off guard by heading on Tuesday secretly to Tehran.

Iraqi sourced confirmed that al-Sadr had left the airport in Baghdad on Monday at 10:00 am. He was accompanied by two of his assistants and had boarded an Iranian airplane, AFP reported.

The Shi’ite cleric’s leave follows three days of turmoil in Iraq. Over the last week, Sadrists, supporters of al-Sadr, started carrying out their threats on breaking into the Green Zone and, later on, raised the bar by taking over the parliamentary building and holding a sit-in, causing material damage.

The Green Zone is the International Zone of Baghdad which is laced with security so much that it is considered the safest space in Iraq.

Sources also reveal that al-Sadr’s trip to Iran was consequential to his supporters using harsh and criticizing slogans against Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani at the protests.

After the upheaval having shaken Iraq, al-Sadr brought the demonstrations to an end, ordering the withdrawal of his supporters from the streets.

Meanwhile, political parties held Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responsible for what they are referring to as the flouting of government integrity. They believe that the authorities were lenient with the Sadrists after they had deliberately barged into the building and vandalized it.

In a statement addressed to Iraqi President Fuad Masum, former Deputy Prime Minister and chairman to Al-Arabiya Coalition Saleh al-Mutlaq said that al-Abadi has lost the path towards reform, and currently uses the term “reform” as to cover up his internal issues, which have evidently led to a series of crises ravaging the country.

Al-Mutlaq demanded the reconsideration of the trust given to al-Abadi.

“We are at a time in which we support the right of nonviolent protest and the freedom of expression, not only that, but we also encourage it, seeking that it becomes a pressuring tool against the government and political parties, which are holding on to sectarian divide of power,” al-Mutlaq said.

However, al-Mutlaq also warned that the demonstrations and people’s suffering must not be exploited for the sake of political interest. Parties must not benefit at the expense of the people, al-Mutlaq added.