More Iraqi Protesters Killed, Sistani Says Time for Govt to Meet Demands

Sistani aide: No longer can government procrastinate

Iraqi security forces continued to crack down on protests Friday, with security forces killing at least 10 people in Basra, where the protesters have been keeping the country’s main Gulf port closed for days.

Live gunfire and killing protesters hasn’t worked in the past, nor is there any sign it’s going to work here. The biggest issue is likely to be Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s sermon, which is now saying the government must immediately meet demands of protesters.

The top religious leader in Iraq, Sistani has long warned against using force against the protesters, and now says it is time to just meet the demands of the protesters immediately. His aide Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaie, added that their position is that the Iraqi government can not “procrastinate on this issue because of the great risks facing the country.”

Though Sistani rarely takes direct political positions, on those rare occasions he does his word is considered law, and with a number of Iraq’s Shi’ite factions already questioning the government’s policy, this further solidifies that changes have to happen.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi had already laid out a series of reforms during the first round of protests that would’ve satisfied many, but he never delivered on them, which is why protests restarted. It is likely those reforms will be revisited, though at this point even more may have to be delivered to satisfy the tens of thousands of people in the streets.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.