Iraq’s al-Sadr calls for closure of US embassy over ‘unfettered support of Israel’

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Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the Iraqi government and lawmakers on Friday to close the US embassy in Baghdad in response to Washington’s “unfettered support” for Israel.

“If the government and parliament do not abide by this demand, we will go for further actions which we will later announce,” the statement said.

The leader counts millions of Iraqis among his followers and has shown in the past he can stir up gatherings by hundreds of thousands of supporters, mostly working-class Shia Muslims, if he wishes to exert political pressure.

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Al-Sadr has opposed Iranian influence in Iraq, setting him apart from other Shia leaders who have close ties to Tehran. He has also opposed the US and called for the departure of the last remaining US troops in Iraq.

In June, his followers stormed and set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in connection with the burning of a Quran in Sweden.

The demonstration was called by al-Sadr’s supporters.

Last year, he commanded his followers to storm Baghdad’s heavily secured Green Zone - which houses government buildings
and embassies - and occupy parliament.

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