“I made this decision as a goodwill gesture, to give a lesson in politics and state administration, and to prove that I don’t rule the country with militias.”
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi cleric and populist political leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Friday that he would shutter various local headquarters of the militia he commands across the embattled nation with the exception of four in which he holds considerable influence.
He announced the move by posting online a letter in his own hand, dated the previous day and addressed directly to the group, Saraya al-Salam. In it, Sadr orders the group’s offices closed across most provinces, with the exception of Najaf, Karbala, Salahuddin, and the capital of Baghdad.
“I made this decision as a goodwill gesture, to give a lesson in politics and state administration, and to prove that I don’t rule the country with militias,” the letter read.
“Opening headquarters or carrying weapons are not allowed, outside these four provinces,” he added. “However, carrying weapons and opening headquarters in the holy provinces [Najaf and Karbala] should be in coordination with state security forces.”
“This decision must be applied in 15 days, starting the issuance date of this letter,” he concluded.
Saraya al-Salam, previously known as the Mahdi Army, is a Shia armed militia founded by Sadr, who comes from an important religious family in Iraq.
Some political observers read al-Sadr’s letter as just one among many post-election steps he is taking to pave the way for his winning political coalition to form a new Iraqi government.
His political alliance won the largest number of parliamentary seats in the national election, held earlier this month on Oct. 10, 2021.