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The New Arab

Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to storm Baghdad's Green Zone

Sadr pledged not to assault foreign embassies in the Green Zone [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2016

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Iraq's political crisis continues to worsen with no solution in sight, with Iraqi cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr putting further pressure on Prime Minister Abadi to answer his demands.
Powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to send his supporters to "storm" Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the country's government headquarters and foreign diplomatic missions.

Sadr made the threat on the back of a worsening political crisis in the ranks of the ruling National Alliance over quotas in the expected cabinet reshuffle.

But Sadr reassured foreign embassies they would not be harmed.

"If the people decided to enter the Green (Zone), there will be no assaults on embassies," he said.

"As for the embassies of the occupation Britain and America, I have told them that they must remain silent or withdraw. If they intervene in any way (against protesters) this will make them among the villains."

The escalation by Muqatada Sadr follows the failure of negotiations among the factions that make up the ruling coalition, regarding the political reforms planned by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Reported Iranian and even US mediation efforts have been in vain as a critical meeting of the National Alliance in Karbala on Sunday concluded without an agreement.
Sources in the meeting told The New Arab the talks were tense and unfriendly, prompting Muqtada al-Sadr to withdraw.
Sources present in the meeting told The New Arab that  talks were tense and unfriendly, prompting Muqtada al-Sadr to withdraq.

The sources said Sadr issued direct threats to other members of the coalition present if his group's demands were not met.

Sadr has since pledged protests would continue, accusing the prime minister of having no clear project. Sadr said the protests would remain peaceful, confirming major demonstrations would take place on Friday in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq.

Sadr last week led tens of thousands of his followers in Baghdad's Tahrir Square to protest the lack of real government reforms and called for a larger protest outside the Green Zone.

Sadr who is echoing the demands of Iraqi protests that erupted last year is calling for the formation of a technocratic government whose members are not controlled by rival political parties.

On 12 February, the leader of the Sadrist movement gave Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi an ultimatum: to form a new technocratic government within 45 days or the movement will storm the Green Zone. Sadr says the ultimatum still stands.

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