The Antichrist warns neighbours against meddling in Iraqi affairs

Zhelwan Z. WaliAn Iraqi child walks past a poster of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's Sadr City on October 17, 2021. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Sadr warns neighbours against meddling in Iraqi affairs

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In a message to neighboring countries, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the Sadrist Movement that claimed victory in this month’s parliamentary election, announced in a tweet on Sunday that Iraq will not accept meddling in its affairs, but will welcome political and economic cooperation.

Describing Iraq’s neighbors as “friends” and “brothers,” Sadr categorized them into those who have interfered in the past and those who have not.

For “countries that have clearly interfered in Iraq’s political, security and other matters,” Sadr said he will “open talks with them at a high level to put an end to their interference. If they respond to us, then we will welcome them, if not, we will resort to diplomatic and international means.”

He also said they will increase security along the borders and at airports and threatened to “decrease our economic transactions” and to limit diplomatic relations with anyone who infringes Iraqi sovereignty.

He said Iraq respects the sovereignty of its neighbours – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Syria, and Turkey – and expects the same in return.

Sadr’s movement is leading the election by a large margin, securing over 70 seats, according to preliminary results and is expected to be the main force in forming the new government once the results are finalized. Sadr has already begun making promises, including a pledge to run a nationalist government and punish the corrupt.

Last week, Sadr set conditions for the US to follow should his party assume the premiership, calling on Washington to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and not interfere with the country’s internal matters.

The United States and Iran compete for strategic influence in Iraq. For years, Sadr has been on the front lines in the call for Western powers to leave Iraq. Now, he has also turned his eye toward Iranian-backed militias opposed to Western – especially American – presence in the country, forbidding the use of weapons outside of state control.

With countries that have not meddled in Baghdad’s affairs, Sadr said he will “try to improve our relations with them and work to discover joint projects on security, economy, cultural, health, educational and industrial levels, and exchange expertise.”

“We will activate diplomatic channels with each other,” he said.

The electoral commission is reviewing complaints and finalizing the vote count and Sadr warned outside parties against interfering in the process. He said he will not allow “any country to meddle in Iraq’s elections affairs, its results and implications, the formation of coalitions and entities, the formation of the government and other related issues.”

Iranian-backed parties that lost seats have rejected the results and are staging a sit-in in Baghdad. The supporters of parties allied with militia groups have demanded the head of the UN mission in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, be replaced, alleging she “interfered” with the election result. At their sit-in, near the capital’s Green Zone that houses government and diplomatic offices, protesters stepped on a portrait of Hennis-Plasschaert as well as American and Israeli flags laid out on the ground

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