Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr labels Maliki a ‘tyrant’

Sadr made the remark in a televised speech, only a few days after he announced his departure from politics

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Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday described Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a “tyrant” who heads a “corrupt” government and suppresses his opponents.

Sadr made the statements in a televised speech only a few days after he announced his departure from politics.

During the speech, Sadr accused Maliki of being a “tyrant, dictator and a dominating figure,” over the country’s political scene.

He also described the current government as corrupt, with members seeking political and financial gains from their posts.

The powerful cleric blamed the government for “silencing, deporting and arresting” those who oppose it and accused it of labeling any opposition as “terrorists,” whether they were Sunnis, Shiites or Kurds.

He also called upon his supporters to take part in Iraq’s upcoming governmental elections.

Sadr, who bowed out of Iraqi politics earlier this week, was a fierce critic of the U.S.-led invasion, chief of a once-feared militia and political kingmaker.

He and his militia group, the Mehdi army, gained popularity in 2003 following the U.S.-Iraq invasion.

After throwing his weight behind Shiite politician Nouri al-Maliki in 2006, ensuring he became prime minister, Sadr then ordered his followers to pull out of the premier’s cabinet the next year, almost bringing down the government.

He has been a sharp and frequent critic of Maliki, both before and after the departure of American forces in late 2011.

In 2012, Sadr was among Iraqi politicians who urged Maliki to resign, referring to the premier as a “dictator” hungry for acclaim, and accusing him of wanting to postpone or cancel elections.

Sadr’s attention has since increasingly turned to his religious studies, and away from politics. But despite only making rare appearances in public, the cleric is widely supported by Shiites, according to Agence France-Presse.

(with AFP)

Infographic: Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?
Infographic: Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?