Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Sadrist trend leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, has re-launched his verbal attacks on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, against the backdrop of al-Maliki’s deteriorating relationship with the Kurdistan Alliance.
In a statement yesterday, al-Sadr claimed that “al-Maliki is seeking to pressure some parties that previously supported him in his election…until the situation has reached these deceptive operations.” He added that al-Maliki is pressuring Iraqi political forces to “forget the great lapses and mistakes made by the ruling party, most importantly the cancelled arms deal and ration card reform.”
He confirmed that “these pressures, and others, will not deter us, our Kurdish brothers, nor indeed any other party, from moving forward to expose corruption and this playing with the fate and foodstuff of the poor and poverty-stricken.”
Earlier this month, Iraq cancelled a $4.2 billion deal to buy arms from Russia over “corruption” concerns. A spokesman for al-Maliki revealed than “when the Prime Minster returned from his trip to Russia, he had some suspicion of corruption, so he decided to review the whole deal” adding that an investigation is ongoing. As for the ration card reform, Iraqi ministers – also earlier this month – took the controversial decision to strap the ration card programme, a food distribution system inaugurated by Saddam Hussein after Iraq was slapped with sanctions. Many people lauded this decision, viewing the ration card programme as being inefficient and rife with corruption. However opposition from clerics, MPs and many of the country’s citizens forced the government to back down, with al-Maliki now saying that the Iraqi government will allow Iraq to choose between monthly cash payment of 25,000 dinars – approximately $20 – or the regular allocation of a handful of food items.
Al-Sadr called on “the fair Iraqi judiciary, which is not affiliated to the ruling party, to hold the corrupt to account for this, even if they are close to power.”
The Sadrist trend chief also called on Iraq’s Integrity Commission to “immediately expose corruption and the corrupt” adding “I stand with them against any pressures.” Al-Sadr accused the Iraqi prime minister of “utilizing military and security pressures to remain in power and in the post of prime minister” adding “the situation has not reached the point of withdrawing confidence or defining jurisdiction or forgetting corruption files regarding the cancellation of the arms deal, exposing the Iraqi banks and other financial lapses.”
He stressed that “corruption has become an integral part of the government’s action” adding “we say one thousand times no to corruption and playing with the resources of the people and playing on the string of sectarianism and ethnicity.” He added that “the Iraqi Spring will come against corruption and sectarianism and all the corrupt and the terrorists.”
For his part, Kurdistan Alliance MP Hassan Jihad informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the latest crisis has confirmed that the Kurds are not alone, and that the first party to stand with them – against what al-Maliki wanted and hoped – is the National Alliance, which he [al-Maliki] himself is a member of. This is something that confirms the correctness of our view and vision.”
He added “the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq that is led by Ammar al-Hakim believes that al-Maliki will not return to the National Alliance until he needs this alliance, and this is the same position that was confirmed by Sadrist trend leader Moqtada al-Sadr.”
MP Hassan Jihad also stressed that “this position from the National Alliance, as well as Iraqiya bloc, have confirmed that the issue is not between the Kurds and al-Maliki, but rather it is between all these forces, including the Shiite parties and al-Maliki.” He added “this clearly demonstrates the correctness of our state-building vision.”