Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr delivers a statement in which he backed early elections overseen by the United Nations in Najaf, on 10 February 2021. Photo: AFP via Getty Images/ Ali Najafi
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A close associate of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Salih Muhammad al-Iraqi, launched a hashtag on Twitter on Sunday calling for the “immediate” dismissal of the minister of electricity, minutes after Sadr’s tweet demanded the minister’s removal due to the deteriorating condition of electricity services.
In a series of tweets, Sadr attributed the poor electric service in Iraq to several causes, the most prominent of which he said was corruption that leads to the waste of electric power.
Sadr said in a tweet there was an emergency line that provides power at all times to politicians and the affluent. He blamed the poor geographical distribution of power stations and the corruption of the authorities and employees in electrical stations for the difficulties in providing electric power to the general public.
Sadr also demanded the dismissal of the current Minister of Electricity, Majid Hantoush
“We will not remain silent about this obvious failure, and we will take a stand,” Sadr warned.
The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity signed a contract on Thursday with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to produce solar energy, the chairman of the Ministerial Council for Energy confirmed in a statement shared by Iraq’s oil ministry.
The deal, made with the UAE-based Masdar Company, will generate 2000 megawatts of electricity through solar energy projects in central and southern Iraq.
Electricity provision is a problem across Iraq, particularly in the summer months. Power lines are frequently subjected to attacks, usually blamed on the Islamic State (ISIS). Iraq has long suffered from chronic outages and electricity shortages. Such shortages have in past years been a rallying call for protesters, most notably in the summer of 2018.
Sadr has been a vocal supporter of reform and anti-corruption campaigns for years. When anti-government protests broke out in October 2019, he sent members of his Saraya al-Salam militia to protect the demonstrators. But Sadr changed his position later, and his militias were involved in the suppression of the protests.