Aug 30, 2022
Deadly clashes in Iraq as Sadr quits politics Transcript
Heavy clashes erupted in Baghdad, killing almost 20 people, after powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he would quit politics, prompting his loyalists to storm a government palace and fight with rival groups. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:01)
Deadly clashes broke out in Baghdad on Monday as supporters of Iraq’s [inaudible 00:00:06] protested hours after the powerful Shiite Muslim cleric announced he was quitting politics. His loyalist charged the government headquarters in Baghdad’s secure green zone. And skirmished in the streets with supporters of Teron backed groups. At least 10 Iraqis were killed in the immediate aftermath as gunfire echoed over the capital. The army has ordered a curfew. Sadr announced his withdrawal on Twitter, criticizing fellows Shiite leaders for failing to heed his calls for reform.
Speaker 1: (00:37)
The flare up followed a month long political deadlock that has blocked the formation of a new cabinet. Late on Monday, state news outlet said Sadr would be on hunger strike until the violence ends. His supporters said they were United against corruption.
Speaker 2: (00:55)
The leader, God bless him. Delegated the issue to the people. We, the Iraqi people, including Sunnis, Shiites and [inaudible 00:01:04] are one hand against the corrupt. Our leader says he’s not affiliated with a certain political group. He retreated twice from the Alliance.
Speaker 1: (01:13)
It wouldn’t be the first time Sadr has withdrawn and then returned to Iraqi politics, but he still retains widespread institutional control and still has a paramilitary group with thousands of members. But the current impasse between Sadr and his Shiite rivals seems harder than before, giving Iraq it’s longest run without a government.
Speaker 1: (01:33)
[inaudible 00:01:33] came first in an October election, but he withdrew his lawmakers from parliament in June after failing to form a government of his choosing, one where he threatened to exclude powerful Shiite rivals close to Iran. His supporters then occupied parliament and halted the selection of a new president and prime minister. On Monday, they could be seen in the swimming pool of the Republican Palace, cheering and waving flags.