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Iraq: Sadrists accuse Maliki of political crackdown - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during the 32nd anniversary of the foundation of the Badr Organization in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

File photo of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki taken on Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi authorities have issued arrest warrants against senior Sadrist Movement MPs amid accusations against Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki of a political crackdown.

The Iraqi authorities issued warrants for Ahrar bloc leader MP Baha Al-Araji, Ahrar bloc Integrity Committee MP Jawad Al-Shahili, and MP Jawad Al-Hasnawi.

MP Jawad Al-Hasnawi, a senior member of the Sadrist Al-Ahrar parliamentary bloc, informed Asharq Al-Awsat: “The arrest warrants issued against three leading figures of the Sadrist Movement, including myself, require explanation.” The Sadrist Movement MP also raised questions about the timing of the issuance of the arrest warrants.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hasnawi said: “There has been a political targeting of the Sadrist Movement and the Al-Ahrar bloc, particularly given that we are approaching the elections. The reason for this is to politically destroy opponents and harm their reputations, especially as the Al-Ahrar bloc is more active than others in raising corruption issues.”

“These are part of vengeful attempts against us which have become obvious to all,” he added.

Hasnawi accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki of being behind the issuance of the arrest warrants. He said: “The arrest warrants are dated and these cases have been closed for a long time. There is not a single one which is related to a new case, but there are judges who work as protectors for the prime minister who issue arrest warrants according to Maliki’s demands.”

“The arrest warrant against Baha Al-Araji is related to the Red Crescent issue, which was closed in 2008, and the warrant against Jawad Al-Shahili is related to the issue of MPs’ loans and he provided parliament with receipts,” the Sadrist Movement MP added.

He also accused MPs belonging to Maliki’s own State of Law coalition of corruption. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “All these accusations are being made while there are still some State of Law Coalition MPs, such as Khalid Al-Attiyah, who spent much more on medical treatment and have not provided any official receipts.”

He said: “What is happening to the Sadrist MPs is a message to all political forces and blocs that they could be subjected to the same treatment, and therefore they must stand against this autocracy. This is a clear case of politicizing the Iraqi judiciary.”

Hasnawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Maliki wants to silence me because I am outspoken about his close circle and members of his family, and therefore, he wants to have me for lunch before I have him for dinner ahead of the election season.”

“This will only make us more determined,” he added.

The Iraqiya List, led by Iyad Allawi, also rejected the targeting of the Sadr Movement and its leaders, called on parliament to “take effective measures to end this miserable farce.”

The Iraqiya List issued a statement on Thursday, saying: “As the parliamentary elections approach, some influential parties in the government have started to use cheap methods to attack opponents among nationalist and political forces by fabricating crises and relying on a politicized judiciary that follows their orders. The last such incident saw the issuing of arrest warrants and summons against some leading Sadrist Movement figures.”

The statement added that “this shameful approach of targeting opponents has been exposed, particularly given that it is repeated in every election season.”