Sadr decides to close movement’s institutions for year: office

Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr (File)

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SULAIMANI — Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr has decided to close institutions associated with his political movement for a year, Sadr’s office said on Friday (December 13).

Sadr’s office said in a statement that the decision would not affect the shrine of Saeed Said Mohammed Sadr and his sons, private offices, or the Saraya al-Salam formations.

Sadr decided to “close all institutions affiliated with the Honorable Sadrist line for a whole year,” the statement read.

The decision came as anti-government protests continue in the Iraqi capital and other southern provinces.

Sadr has led protests against the government in the past and has voiced support for goals of the current demonstrations. Protesters have kept him at arm’s length, however, in order to avoid accusations of interference from the parties or militias.

Saraya al-Salam, also known as the Peace Companies, is the armed wing of Sadr’s political movement. A major challenge of the Iraqi government over the past several years has been to reign in armed groups operated by non-state entities.

Protesters took to the streets at the beginning of October to demand an end to corruption, better public services, and employment, but since then the unrest has become a more general uprising seeking the ouster of the Iraq's political establishment.

More than 400 people have been killed in Baghdad and provinces in the south. Thousands have been injured in the unrest as the government and “third party groups” have used live ammunition, snipers, and tear gas in an attempt put down the protests.

(NRT Digital Media)