Payam Javan: An altercation that resulted in the bloodiest bloodshed in the Iraqi capital in years was calmed on Tuesday after influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to stop protesting in central Baghdad.
After 22 people died after skirmishes between an armed group loyal to him and competing Shi’ite Muslim factions supported by Iran, Sadr apologized to the Iraqi people, condemned the fighting, and granted his own supporters an hour to disperse. Around 2 p.m. as the deadline came to an end, Sadr’s supporters could be seen beginning to depart the government offices and parliament-occupied area in central Baghdad’s protected Green Zone.
Following 10 months of political deadlock following Iraq’s October parliamentary elections, violence between opposing Shi’ite Muslim factions on Monday have stoked worries of further turmoil.
Violence broke out this week after Sadr announced his resignation from all political participation, which he said was motivated by the inability of other Shi’ite leaders and parties to repair a dysfunctional and corrupt political system. In order to resolve Iraq’s political issues, the United States advocated for discussion and termed the disturbance as troubling.
Sadr has positioned himself as a nationalist who rejects all foreign meddling, whether it comes from Iran or the West or the United States.