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Iraq: Sadr ends political isolation - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr chant anti-Iraqi government slogans as they march under a giant Iraqi flag during a demonstration  in Baghdad's Sadr City  on September 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)

Supporters of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr chant anti-Iraqi government slogans as they march under a giant Iraqi flag during a demonstration in Baghdad’s Sadr City on September 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—One day after the announcement by Moqtada Al-Sadr of ending his self-imposed exile from politics, arguments erupted between the Sadr Movement and the Ahl Al-Haq (The Righteous) group, which is led by Qais Al-Khaz’ali, which broke away from the Mahdi Army in 2007.

The arguments started following an announcement of the defection of 150 members of the Ahl Al-Haq Movement, and their return to the Sadr Movement, where they were welcomed by Moqtada Al-Sadr in Najaf.

While the Sadr Movement avoided mention of the welcome afforded to the defecting members of Ahl Al-Haq, who last year laid down arms and joined the political process, a source from the Sadr Bureau in Najaf said Moqtada Al-Sadr returned to Najaf from his recent stay in Iranian Qom and began to receive dozens of his supporters and set a weekly slot to meet people and listen to their problems.

Hundreds of supporters of the Sadr Movement leader announced on August 19 the renewal of their allegiance to the Sadr clan in Najaf, and called on their leader Moqtada to “reverse his decision to retire from political duties,” because that would “cause an imbalance,” in Iraqi politics, and because he was a “safety valve” for all Iraqis.

For his part, Jawad Al-Jubouri, member of the Sadrist Al-Ahrar parliamentary bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Moqtada Al-Sadr is a descendent of the prominent family which made great sacrifices for their religion and country and he would never abandon his supporters under any circumstances.”

He added that “Sadr was not too far from the religious seminaries’ affairs, or political affairs. He was always present and close by,” and that “all those who wagered on Sadr having retired have now lost.”

Ahl Al-Haq Movement, meanwhile, denied that any of its members had defected to the Sadr Movement. Official Spokesman Ahmed Ali Al-Asadi told Asharq Al-Awsat hat “reports about the defection of more than 150 Ahl Al-Haq members are totally untrue.”

Asadi added that “we looked at the recordings of these members and after checks, we found that some of these people were unknown to us and that they were members of the Mahdi Army. Some of them were even dismissed by the Mahdi Army according to reports from their areas and it seems that they had been allowed back in the Mahdi Army, which is an internal matter in which we do not interfere.”

He also added that the movement was in good shape and that “all its members were united, and therefore, we look at such reports as being an attempt to cause political damage.” He said “the condition we impose on anyone who wants to join our movement is that they are not affiliated to any other movement, especially the Sadr Movement.”

Sadr attacked Ahl Al-Haq a few months ago because they had become close to the State of Law Coalition, which is led by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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