Key Sadr Ally Assassinated in Iraq’s Basra

Gunmen attacked him amid soaring tensions

Amid soaring tensions between cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the anti-government protest movement in Iraq, a group of gunmen attacked and assassinated one of Sadr’s top allies, al-Sheikh Hazim al-Haffi.

Haffi was shot and killed in the southern port city of Basra. Police rushed to the scene but he was already slain, and the gunmen had all fled. Investigations are ongoing, but there is no specific culprit being named, nor indication that anyone in particular is being looked at.

With protesters accusing Sadr’s supporters of engaging in a “massacre” in the holy city of Najaf just the day prior, however, it is impossible not to imagine this might be related, either a direct retaliation against Sadr’s support network, or an attempt to undercut him at an inopportune time.

The massacre and tensions are related to the appointment of Iraq’s new PM-designate, Mohammed Allawi, and Sadr having called on his supporters to back Allawi and end the protests that they were previously heavily involved in. In Najaf, Sadr followers attacked the rest of the protesters, burning their camps and engaging in a major fight.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.