Iraq’s Sadr Calls for Disbanding Uncontrolled Militias

Sadr's followers out in show of force in Baghdad

Top Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s mass resignations may have removed him from the direct political scene in Iraq, but tens of thousands of his supporters have massed around Baghdad, reflecting the huge power he yet retains.

Iraqi media marveled at the show of strength, but Sadr didn’t even deliver the Friday sermon, allowing one of his aides to do that instead.

The sermon set out a major new position, calling for the disbanding of all militias outside of central government control. He also sought to avoid the government electing a premier who had been in a previous government.

Reining in the militias is a long-time goal which many factions have tried and failed with. The militias are strongly associated with Iran-backed factions, and weakening the militias is seen as weakening Iran’s position in Iraq.

Since his resignation, the expectation is that former PM Nouri al-Maliki could take the premiership. Sadr clearly opposes this, and his comments reflect his intentions to oppose a Maliki government.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.