Followers of the Antichrist Hold Anti-war Protests

Followers of Iraqi cleric hold anti-war protests as Iran-US tensions grow

Followers of Muqtada a-Sadr gather in Baghad’s Tahrir Square, May 24, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) ­– Followers of influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday launched a series of anti-war demonstrations in the capital of Baghdad and other cities to the south as tensions escalated between the US and Iraq’s eastern neighbor, Iran.

Crowds chanted, “Yes to peace… No to war!” in central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, a popular site of Friday demonstrations. Local sources told Kurdistan 24 that security forces were deployed to the area, as is normal when protests are being held.

The demonstration comes amid concerns that Iraq could be plunged into a possible proxy conflict between arch-foes US and Iran after a notorious Iranian military commander recently called on Tehran-backed Iraqi militias to prepare for war.

Citing two intelligence sources, The Guardian reported last week that the head of the Quds force of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Qasim Soleimani, had earlier met with Iraqi militia leaders and told them to “prepare for a proxy war.” The US designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in early April.

Sadr, A long-time critic of foreign powers’ intervention into Iraq’s internal affairs, has already stated his opposition to actions that could lead to conflict. “I am not for fueling war between Iran and America,” he said in a Twitter statement.

At a sit-in held in the city of Najaf the week before, security forces killed at least four people and injured 17 others, according to initial reporting. Those taking part were protesting corruption that has squandered the country’s resources and left the public enraged.

The protest, like Friday’s, began at the behest of Sadr, whose coalition was the winner of last year’s parliamentary elections. He had called on his supporters to surround “corrupt” business centers and “disrupt their affairs” for three days.

After the sit-in turned to violence, with fires and gunshots erupting near a local mall, Sadr quickly walked back his statement and urged his followers not to engage in violent behavior.

Beginning in the summer months of 2018, residents in the southern province of Basra staged dozens of protests that spread across much of Iraq in which they demanded improved public services, clean water, regular electricity supply, employment, and an end to widespread corruption in Iraqi government institutions.

Editing by John J. Catherine

Antichrist against Iraq becoming party to US-Iran conflict

Sadr against Iraq becoming party to US-Iran conflict

BAGHDAD: The anti-Iranian Iraqi Shiite cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has called on all Iraqis to take to the streets in massive demonstrations across the country on Friday to show their rejection to be involved in the US-Iran conflict, and he threatened to consider whoever involves Iraq with war as “an enemy,” a statement said.

The tension between the US and Iran is at its peak, especially after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, imposing economic sanctions on Iran and threatening military attacks if Iran attacks US interests in the Middle East.

Iraq has been a battleground for the great powers in the region, especially America and Iran, since 2003. Iraqi leaders believe that the country will be the first confrontation zone between the two countries in the event of a war, especially since Iran has great influence in Iraq and controls armed factions that could target US interests at any time.

Sadr, who has millions of followers and controls one of the largest Shiite factions, has publicly distanced himself and his fighters from the Iranians for years. It has criticized them on several occasions for “their blatant interference in Iraqi affairs and their quest to control the country using their armed arms.”

Despite Sadr’s hostile attitude toward Iran, he still considers the US as his first “enemy” in Iraq, and has blamed them for the killing of thousands of his followers in the years since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

He has expressed his attitude toward the Americans in his speeches and directives to his followers.

“I am not backing the war between Iran and the US and I am not (supporting any situation) that involves Iraq in this war and makes it a battlefield,” Sadr said.

“We need a serious pause to keep Iraq away from this fierce war that will burn everything.”

Iran has formed, trained and equipped dozens of Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Yazidi factions over the past years.

All American interests are located within the range of these factions’ rockets.

Restraining and controlling these factions is one of the biggest challenges facing Iraqi leaders.

A rocket fired by unknown gunmen on Sunday targeting the Green Zone, the most fortified area in Baghdad that hosts most of the governmental buildings and embassies, including the US embassy, has embarrassed the Iraqi government and intensified fears that Iraqi factions
could spark a war between Iran and the US.

Sadr called on Iraqis to take part in mass demonstrations on Friday evening in all provinces — except the holy city of Najaf.

“We need to raise the Iraqi people’s voice condemning the war … it would be the end of Iraq if this war broke out,” Sadr said.

“Any party that involves Iraq in the war and makes it a battleground (for Iran and the US) will be an enemy of the Iraqi people,” the Iraqi leader said.

All of the Antichrist’s Men (Revelation 13:18)

Commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani attends an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani attends an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Archive)

TRT WORLD

Iraq

Mahdi Army: The group, also known as Jaysh Al-Mahdi (JAM), was formed in 2003 by Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr who is the leader of the Sadrist movement. Al-Sadr teamed up with a small group of 500 followers with the objective of expelling the US coalition that invaded the county that year. The estimated number of the militiamen later reached at least 10,000.

In its early years, Iran largely supported the group. Tehran provided arms and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah helped to train the army, but Sadr began adopting anti-Iran policies in 2006 when he drifted away from the then Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who was backed by Tehran.

Sadr became one of the most influential figures of Iraqi politics with the 2018 elections as he re-established himself an anti-sectarian and anti-corruption leader.

Badr Organisation: The group is part of the PMF. It is considered Tehran’s oldest proxy in Iraq. Its leader, Hadi Al-Amri, renamed the group, once known as the Badr Brigades, when he joined since the constitution bans paramilitary groups from political participation and he was poised to run in the 2018 elections.

Hashd Al-Shaabi: Also referred to as the PMF, Hashd Al-Shaabi is the umbrella military unit embracing the largest Shia armed groups, Badr Organisation and the Mahdi army. It’s largely funded and commanded by Iran, which is predominantly Shia.

In fact, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards stepped in as advisers and trainers to those militia groups under the umbrella of Hashd Al-Shaabi, while Iran began providing funds and armories to more than 100,000 Hashd fighters. The Hashd Al-Shaabi’s second man, Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, pledged allegianceto Iranian commander Qassem Sulaimani in early 2017.

It was founded after 2014 after Iraq’s Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani called to defend the country from Daesh since the Iraqi army was too weak to do so. The group played a key role in defeating Daesh in the country, but is also accused of human rights abuses. Human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented major crimes against Iraqi Sunnis.

Made up of more than 50 sub-groups, Hashd Al-Shaabi also includes a few Yazidis, Christians and some Sunni tribal leaders that have fought alongside the group.

A year later, in 2016, Iraq’s parliament passed legislation legitimising the PMF as an independent organisation within the Iraqi army. Sistani, who is known for rejecting the Iranian model of theocracy, opposed the group’s involvement in the politics and expressed his discomfort with Iranian influence in the country. The group, however, managed to step up its influence in the Iraqi political sphere with the defeat of Daesh.

Syria

National Defence Forces (NDF): The Syrian paramilitary organisation was formed in 2012 in support of the Syrian regime with the help of Iran and Hezbollah. Iran has been the main backer of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the eight-year war.

The NDF was created through merging and restructuring the pro-regime Popular Committees and Shabiha, pro Assad thugs, taking Iran’s Basij resistance Force as a leading example. It played an important role in keeping the Assad regime strong in its fight against opposition forces in the country, but is also blamed for human rights abuses by international rights organisations.

Fatemeyoun Brigades: This is an affiliate of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that was originally created to defend the shrine of Sayyeda Zeinab outside of Damascus before the Syrian war broke out in 2011. It is made up almost entirely of Shia Afghans and refugees. The force fought in the front lines of the war alongside regime forces.

Lebanon

Hezbollah: The group is an internationally blacklisted political and militant organisationprimarily based in Lebanon under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah. Its creation dates back to the 1980s following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Iran helped create and sponsor the guerilla group, fortifying it with weapons, fighters and assistance. The United States and other Western nations have named it a terrorist group.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s political party leadsthe pro-Syrian March 8 faction, while it remains heavily involved in the Syrian war. The group opposes the West and Israel and seeks an Iranian-style autocracy.

The Antichrist and the Iranian Horn (Daniel 8)

To deter Iran, understand the IRGC and Iraqi politics

by Tom Rogan  | May 06, 2019 01:21 PM

Absent U.S. deterrence, the Iranian hardliners target U.S. interests, hence the newly announced deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf. With its recent increase in U.S. Navy deployments near Iran, the Trump administration wants to deter the Islamic Republic from threatening maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran is very much on the move, fomenting terrorism and paramilitary activity in the region. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned recently that America “will not distinguish between attacks from Shia militias in Iraq and the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] that controls them. Any attack by these groups against U.S. forces will be considered an attack by Iran and responded to accordingly.”

But Rubio is only half right here. He is correct that the Guard actively uses Shia militias in Iraq as proxy forces. But he is wrong to suggest that all such Iraqi militias operate under Iranian direction. And that distinction must inform how the U.S. responds to any given threat.

Retired Gen. Mark Hertling and I debated some of the nuances here, but the basic point is that an attack by an Iraqi Shia militia might be but isn’t necessarily an attack by Iran.

Consider the organization of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Formerly a close ally of Iran, al-Sadr has reinvented himself as an Iraqi nationalist. Aligning with the communists — yes, you read that right — the Sadrists won a huge victory in the May 2018 Iraqi elections. Sadr has earned the ire of the Iranian hardliners by his recentering of Iraqi Shia populism outside of Iranian control. This is not to say that Sadr is determined to attack America (he wants to maintain some dialogue). But an attack by Sadr’s militia on the U.S. would be unlikely to be an Iranian plot.

It is also important to note here that the nuances of Iraqi politics mean that even pro-Iranian figures, such as the Badr Organization’s Hadi Al-Amiri, would be cautious before targeting the U.S. These leaders are less directly controlled Iranian partners than, say, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Of course the U.S. shouldn’t ignore attacks by these groups, but they represent Iranian interests in varying degrees. Iraqi prime minister Adi Abdul-Mahdi is the ultimate manifestation of these competing ideologies.

Still other Iraqi Shia militias, such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the Imam Ali Battalions, represent extensions of both Iran’s Khomeinist ideology and of the Guard. The Guard uses these groups as cutouts or deniable intermediaries for its dirty work. If these groups were to attack U.S. interests, Iran would be a legitimate target for direct U.S. retaliation — and that’s one reason they won’t do it without orders from Tehran.

Antichrist Takes Census of His Nation

Iraq’s plans to take census raise controversy

Omar Sattar May 5, 2019

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s central government announced April 9 its intention to launch a comprehensive census in the country in late 2020. This constitutes the first step toward ending several chronic economic and political problems caused by a lack of accurate official statistics since 1997.

While there have been several previous attempts to take a comprehensive census, such attempts have failed to come to fruition either due to the lack of sufficient funding or because of the absence of a political consensus.

Article 140 of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution stipulates that a census was to be taken before 2007 so that a referendum could be held in disputed areas, including oil-rich Kirkuk province, in order to determine the will of the people and whether they want their area to turn into its own region or want to join the Kurdistan region.

This year, it seems significant that a body called the Supreme Commission for the Comprehensive Population and Housing Census of 2020 has been formed.

A Ministry of Planning statement says this body includes “the head of the National Population Policy Committee, the head of the Central Bureau of Statistics, two representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government, a representative of the House of Representatives, and the undersecretaries of ministries related to security and services and representatives of the Sunni and Shiite endowments, among other religions.”

The mission of this body is to “approve the census’ comprehensive plan and sub-plans based on their stages, time frames and material and human requirements. The body also determines the methods of funding disbursement as well as the work progress supervision and follow-up methods throughout the preparatory stages. It adopts the census form’s final version and defines the counting process, among other issues it may deem important and necessary.”

This reflects the seriousness of the government in the implementation of the comprehensive census.

Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi, a spokesman for the census, told Al-Monitor, “The comprehensive population and housing census will be taken at the end of next year, and the United Nations along with some friendly countries will provide assistance and advice to organize this important event.”

Regarding the relationship between the census and Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, Hindawi, who also heads the Central Bureau of Statistics, said, “The census has nothing to do with Article 140 of the constitution and the disputed areas.”

He added, “While the constitution stipulates the organization of a census for those areas specifically in order to determine the number of each component therein before a referendum is held, the census in question is only developmental, and citizens have the option not to specify their national and religious affiliations when filling out the form.”

He said, “Political differences over whether or not the census has anything to do with the disputed areas were behind the postponement of the census, which was scheduled to take place in 2010. The census that is being prepared now will have nothing to do with [the fate of] Kirkuk or any other disputed area.”

According to the Ministry of Planning, the debate over the future of the disputed areas will linger, especially considering that the parliamentary blocs that form the government had approved a government program that includes a population census.

Riad al-Masoudi, a member of parliament from the Sairoon coalition led by Muqtada al-Sadr, stressed that “the census will make no mention of religious, doctrinal and national affiliations, although some parliamentary blocs are trying to have these details mentioned in the questionnaire.”

He said, “There is a prevailing view to have doctrinal and national affiliations specified at a later stage so that no developmental plans are disrupted due to political differences.”

Dylan Ghafour, a member of parliament for the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told Al-Monitor that from now until the fourth quarter of next year, which is when the census is to be taken, the Kurdish side will be working on having national affiliations specified in the census so that the latter is used in the application of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution.

“The government program stipulates ending the dispute over the disputed areas, and the census should under no circumstances refrain from including national and religious affiliations. Otherwise, it would be useless,” she added.

Ghafour hoped that “political blocs would end the dispute over Kirkuk by constitutional means through the census and popular referendum. It is such disputes that allowed the Islamic State organization, among other terrorist groups, to infiltrate and control large areas of the country.”

The last official population census taken in Iraq was in 1997, and it did not include the Kurdistan region. According to that census, the population of the country amounted to 19,184,543 people, and since 2003 until now, the Iraqi government has been relying on data from the Ministry of Trading, which administers the ration cards held by most Iraqis, to determine the size of the population and organize elections.

On Oct. 1, the Ministry of Planning estimated the population of Iraq at 38,124,182 — 19,261,253 of whom were male, accounting for 51% of the population, while 18,862,929 were female, accounting for 49%..

The debate over the population census is not confined to the disputed areas, but also includes sectarian diversity and the quotas for each ethnic and national minority. Each group believes that its share in the federal parliament and local councils is unfair and has been manipulated to serve other groups. However, striking the religion and sect category from the census form would necessarily lead a prolonged debate over the real size of Iraq’s various communities, especially considering that the political system has relied since 2003 on sectarian and ethnic quotas for the distribution of positions and privileges.

The census will contribute to more targeted economic and human development plans as it will more accurately determine, as opposed to relying on estimates, the real electoral size of each province and the share each administrative unit should get from the public budget.

As Kurds and Turkmens object to the census’ timing and meaning for the future of Kirkuk on the one hand, and some groups insist on the need for citizens to specify their religious affiliation on the other, this census might end up getting postponed once again.

Antichrist Calls for Urgent Response to Reappearance of ISIS Leader

Iraqi politicians call for urgent response to reappearance of ISIS leader

Mina AldroubiApril 30, 2019

Iraqi politicians made an urgent call on Tuesday to ensure that Baghdad is to ready to counter an ISIS resurgence, after the terror group’s leader made a video appearance for the first time in five years.

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi appeared in a propaganda video released on Monday. It was his first appearance since 2014 and was designed to rally his remaining followers worldwide.

It was broadcast to prove that ISIS had not been defeated, a month after losing its last stronghold in Baghouz, Syria.

“The appearance of Al Baghdadi in the video is a very dangerous development facing the Iraqi government,” Sarkwat Shams, a member of parliament, told The National.

“The most important thing the parliament can do is to vote for the interior and defence ministers.”

Since assuming office last October, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has failed to form a complete government, with the defence, interior and justice portfolios still vacant.

Internal disagreement between rival blocs led by populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and Iranian-backed Hadi Al Ameri have prevented the appointment of a full Cabinet of 22 ministers.

The deadlock has raised fears that militants could exploit the power vacuum as the country struggles to rebuild after a brutal battle against ISIS.

“I believe we should take it seriously and we should analyse the size of the threat,” Mr Shams said.

“However, ISIS will benefit from the crisis and corruption. We believe that the threat is serious and we should be ready for it.”

Terrorism remains a threat with or without Al Baghdadi, said former Iraqi vice president Ayyad Allawi.

ISIS has sleeper cells in Iraq, Syria and across the Middle East, Mr Allawi said.

The parliament needs to finalise the country’s security portfolios,” he said. “The economy must be revived so that jobs are created. Many Iraqis, especially the youth, are unemployed.

“Having a profession will give Iraqis a sense of stability in that they will have a purpose and means of income.

“It will divert them from joining ISIS.”

Iraq needs political stability and security to battle the threat and ideology of ISIS, said Falah Mustafa, the head of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“For the current situation in Iraq to be consolidated, we need to have a complete Cabinet, we need have political stability and to support the current government,” Mr Mustafa said.

The current situation is very fragile, he said, and Iraq needed to “be vigilant and on alert that ISIS may make a comeback”.

“We need to co-ordinate in terms of intelligence-sharing, and address the issue politically, economically, socially and culturally so that we address the root causes that led to the emergence of ISIS in Iraq and other places,” Mr Mustafa said.

The reappearance of Al Baghdadi showed that ISIS was still a threat to Iraq’s security, MP Jaber Al Jaberi said.

“Those who think that ISIS is defeated in Iraq are wrong,” Mr Al Jaberi said.

Mr Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that Al Baghdadi’s “appearance is a way of showing support towards his followers”.

He warned that although “ISIS’s capabilities have shrunk they still remain a threat” to the region.

The terror group has lost its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, which stripped Al Baghdadi of his assumed title of “caliph” and turned him into a fugitive.

Experts predict that he is moving along the desert border between Iraq and Syria.

Last year Iraqi authorities formed a special task force with US special forces to search for Al Baghdadi, said Hashim Al Hashimi, a counter-terrorism expert in Iraq.

“The group has eliminated 13 out of 17 possibilities of his hideout and are very close to locating him, either in the Anbar desert in the Hawran valley region, or the Syrian Homs desert,” Mr Al Hashimi said.

But he said that Al Baghdadi’s reappearance, which was a shock for the Iraqi government, would give his supporters hope.

It will also put to rest rumours of his death and severe injuries, Mr Al Hashimi said.

Baghdad declared victory over the insurgents in 2017 but has struggled to dislodge their insurgency since.

Updated: May 1, 2019 10:07 AM

UAE expresses ‘concern’ about Antichrist’s statement on Bahrain

 

UAE expresses ‘concern’ about Iraqi cleric’s statement on Bahrain

Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr reportedly “defamed” Bahrain’s leadership

The UAE is following with “great concern and anxiety” the statements issued by Iraq regarding Bahrain and its leadership, the country’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has said.

“The interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain and any contempt or breach of the status of its leadership is objectionable meddling that can never be accepted,” official news agency WAM quoted the ministry as saying.

On Sunday, Bahrain strongly condemned a statement made by Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr in which he reportedly “defamed” Bahrain’s leadership, according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Bahrain said it considered the statement as an “unacceptable insult to the kingdom of Bahrain and its leadership, a blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs, an obvious violation of international law and conventions and an abuse of the nature of relations between Bahrain and Iraq.”

The UAE’s foreign ministry reiterated that “any failure in containing the abuse in relations between sisterly countries will lead to widening the gap and heightening tension in a time we are in a dire need for cooperation and for respecting national sovereignty and adhering to the principle of non-intervention.”

“Within this context, we are urging our brothers in Iraq to commit to the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-intervention in order to strengthen Arab links and contribute to deepening stability in the region,” it added.

Meanwhile a source at Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said the kingdom would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bahrain.

The source said the kingdom was urging for a “strong relationship between Bahrain and Iraq, who contribute to regional security and stability”, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Babylon the Great Continues Its Hegemony in Iraq

US presence in Iraq will continue as long as needed, says Central Command

General Kenneth McKenzie, Chief of the US Central Command

US presence in Iraq will continue as long as needed, says Central Command

(IraqiNews) Chief of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie said that the United States presence in Iraq will be for a long term, while pointed out that Washington is carrying out negotiations in this regard. He also added that Washington is very capable to counter any dangerous actions by Tehran.

McKenzie said in an interview with Sky News Arabia Channel that Iran’s support to terrorism in the region and the world is a long-term threat, while indicated that the US Central Command presence in the area will continue for a long time.

“We’re gonna continue to reach out to our partners and friends in the region to ensure that we make common cause against the threat of Iran,” He added. “I believe we’ll have the resources necessary to deter Iran from taking actions that will be dangerous,” he explained.

It is noteworthy that tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the latter withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began to escalate sanctions. Also the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards earlier this month.

Iraq Will Be Caught in US-Iran Conflict

Exclusive – Iraq Fears Getting Caught in US-Iran Conflict

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 06:00 –

The chancellery building inside the compound of the US …

Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi

Concerns have been growing in Iraq that it will be dragged into the raging conflict between the United States and Iran that has reached new heights after Washington announced Monday that it will no longer issue exemptions to buyers of Iranian oil.

Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and earlier this week the US embassy in Baghdad further stoked tensions when it accused Iran’s supreme leader of Ali Khamenei of corruption.

“Corruption is rife in all parts of the Iranian regime, starting at the top. The possessions of the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei alone are estimated at $200 billion, while many people languish in poverty because of the dire economic situation in Iran after 40 years of rule by the mullahs,” said a post on the embassy’s Facebook page.

Iraqi factions loyal to Tehran were quick to slam the mission for its statement.

Fateh alliance leader Hadi al-Ameri strongly condemned “the use of diplomatic missions in Iraq to harm any country or religious authorities.” He deemed the statement a violation of diplomatic regulations and norms.

He demanded that the embassy immediately delete the “harmful” post and called on the Foreign Ministry to summon the American charge d’affaires and hand him a formal letter of complaint.

Leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq faction, Qaid al-Khazali deemed the US embassy’s statement as an attempt to stoke strife in Iraq. He denounced the “use of Iraq to meddle in the internal affairs of its neighbors.”

The criticism was not limited to pro-Iran forces, but extended to other figures, reflecting the concerns mounting in Iraq over the escalating conflict between the Washington and Tehran.

Sadrist movement leader, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his concern over the “interference” in Iraqi affairs by both sides. He also called for shutting the American embassy in Baghdad should Iraq be dragged into the brewing conflict.

Moreover, he called on the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces and other armed groups to withdraw from Syria and return to Iraq. He also demanded that an agreement be signed between Iraq and Iran that calls on each country to respect the sovereignty of the other.

Head of the Reform alliance Ammar al-Hakim warned against exploiting Iraq to launch a “media, trade or political war.” In a brief statement, he underlined Iraq’s “neutrality and non-interference” in regional conflicts out of its keenness on protecting its higher national interest.

Political science professor at the University of Kufa, Eyad al-Anbar, noted that the fiery rhetoric between the US and Iran was becoming even more heated.

It appears that Iraq is an arena for both sides to deliver their messages,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Iraq’s problem lies in its inability to distance itself from Iran. At the same time, it cannot give up American support. The Iraqi government has remained silent over the issue and sufficed with statements that reflect the lack of vision to manage the crisis,” he added.

Head of the Iraq Center for Development of Media, Adnan Sarraj, expressed his concerns that the American-Iranian tensions may boil over into a clash on Iraqi territory.

“Despite the hostile rhetoric, however, the American policy does not lean towards a direct clash with Iran because it believes that its harsh sanctions will eventually bring Tehran to its knees,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said that the US embassy post was primarily a message to Iraq to urge it to counter Iran’s influence in its territory. “This is why the Iraqis responded to the post, not Iran,” he noted.

Bahrain Strongly Objects to Antichrist (Revelation 13)

Manama Strongly Objects to Moqtada al-Sadr’s Statements on Bahrain

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister summoned on Saturday Iraqi deputy chargé d’affaires Nihad Rajab Askar over statements by Sadrist movement leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, reported the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Undersecretary of Regional and Gulf Cooperation Council Affairs, Ambassador Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, expressed Bahrain’s strong dismissal and objection of the statement issued Sadr, in which he referred to the Kingdom.

“The statement is a blatant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain. It violates the principles of international law and affects the nature of relations” between Manama and Baghdad, he said.

Sayyar stressed that Bahrain will hold the Iraqi government responsible for any deterioration in bilateral relations as it allows such “irresponsible and offensive remarks that spread sedition that threaten the peace and stability of the region.”

He stressed that Manama is committed to its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, adding that the Kingdom calls upon the Iraqi government to deter such provocative statements.

Bahrain will not accept any form of violation or interference in its affairs from any party, he said, adding that it will take all the necessary measures to preserve its sovereignty, independence, peace and stability.

Sayyar stated that Bahrain demands that the Iraqi government shoulder its responsibility in ensuring the safety of the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Najaf. It also calls on the Iraqi government to immediately intervene to stop such hostile statements against Bahrain.

The ambassador delivered to Askar a letter of protest on this issue.