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Iraq: Al-Sistani responds to Khamenei’s statements

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2L) meets with Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani (L) as part of his current visit to Iraq, on 13 March 2019 in Najaf, Iraq. [Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's Office / Handout - Anadolu Agency]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2L) meets with Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani (L) as part of his current visit to Iraq, on 13 March 2019 in Najaf, Iraq. [Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's Office / Handout - Anadolu Agency]

Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, declared on Friday that he refuses any regional or international parties’ interference and “imposing opinions” on demonstrators in Iraq, referring specifically to Iran and the United States.

Al-Sistani added in the Friday prayer sermon, read by his representative Ahmad Al-Safi, in Karbala, that “no person nor group, no side with a particular view, no regional or international actor may seize the will of the Iraqi people and impose its will on them.”

According to analysts, Al-Sistani’s statements came in reference to the words of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday, on the existence of “plans by the enemies to provoke chaos and undermine security in certain countries in the region,” warning “those who are concerned about Iraq and Lebanon’s interests, that the main priority is to address the security instability.”

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Al-Sistani hinted at the efforts made by Shia cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr, who was accused by some of trying to “ride” the wave of demonstrations, and the leader of the Popular Mobilisation, Hadi Al-Amiri, who, sources informed AFP, reconsidered his opinion, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, in line with the Iranian desire.

Al-Sistani called on the authorities “not to bring any type of fighting forces” against the demonstrators, and to “avoid falling into the trap of internal fighting.”

Al-Sadr had put his Saraya Al-Salam forces on alert at the start of the second wave of demonstrations, and the Popular Mobilisation Forces roamed the streets of Baghdad on Thursday night, unleashing car horns, raising concern among the demonstrators about the possibility of causing problems.

Political leaders in Iraq are continuing their efforts to find a solution to the protests, calling for the “overthrow of the regime” in Iraq, which entered its second month on Friday, leaving behind more than 250 dead, according to a parliamentary committee.

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