Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr has prohibited his supporters from engaging in confrontations with Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, a Shi’ite group that had splintered from the Sadr Movement, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.
In a statement issued in response to a question from one of his followers about the recent clashes with the splinter group in Sab Al-Bor in northern Baghdad, Sadr said: “All of these quarrels and confrontations are forbidden even if the other side [Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq] never hesitates to [provoke them] [even receiving] legal support.”
“Do not be like them and gain your rights within the framework of morality and logic,” Sadr addressed his followers whom he threatened to “renounce” in case of any breaches.
Clashes had erupted between elements affiliated with Mahdi Army, a paramilitary force created by Sadr, and the Qais Al-Khaz’ali-led splinter group, leading to the death of one of the members of the Asa’ib.
Despite Iraqi tribes’ attempts to solve the feud, Asa’ib has filed a lawsuit against 17 of Sadr’s followers, many of whom have been captured, turned themselves to justice or fled.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat the spokesman for the Asa’ib, Ahmed Al-Assadi, denied there were any “quarrels or confrontations between the two groups whether in Sab Al-Bor or somewhere else,” indicating that “a case of assault against one of our movement’s followers took place more than a month ago leading to his death.”
“The issue has been resolved in a tribal manner and apart from that nothing has happened recently,” he added.
For his part, MP for the Sadr Movement, Rida Khafaji, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Sadrists are patriotic, seeking the interest of homeland and citizens, they give precedence to the public interest over the private one,” he added.
“The rigorous stances Sadr takes towards such issues give evidence that he is not ready to tolerate even with what seems to be simple and ordinary,” he said.
“This is the secret behind [the movement’s] continuity because it looks towards the future,” Khafaji added.
In another development from Iraq, Sadr expressed his objection to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s intention to stand for a third term.
Commenting on the issue, Khafaji told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “parliament had enacted a law limiting the Prime Minister’s office to two terms but the brothers in the State of Law Coalition lodged an appeal against it.”
“We think renewing Maliki’s second term officially consolidates dictatorship despite all of the failures we suffered from over the past years,” he added.