Since 2013, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, announced several times his retirement from political work before returning to the public scene in Iraq. Will his retirement, which he announced on Monday, be; The last of his political career?
Iraq entered into a stormy security chaos with the announcement of the leader of the Sadrist movement yesterday, Monday, to retire from political action, and this was followed by the outbreak of clashes after demonstrators stormed the government palace in the Green Zone in Baghdad, which resulted in deaths and injuries.
According to the information, the leader of the Sadrist movement had previously announced several times his retirement from political work in Iraq before returning again to the public scene.
Signs of the movement’s first announcement of political retirement began in March 2013, when the movement’s leader Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to withdraw from the government and parliament, which he described at the time as “poor”.
“We will discuss withdrawing from the government, and even from the emaciated parliament,” he said in a statement.
At the time, al-Sadr described remaining in the government as “harmful and a source of sin and aggression.” Five months later, he announced his official retirement from politics on August 4, 2013.
About a month later, he returned to the political scene, ending the boycott with a statement in which he said, “Although I am currently inclined to retire and isolate from society, I have not been able to stand still in front of these good and faithful crowds marching to their father al-Sadr.”
A year after his first retirement, the leader of the movement announced in mid-February 2014 to withdraw again from political work, dissolve the movement and close its political offices, with the exception of some of its voluntary and media institutions.
Al-Sadr said at the time, that he decided to retire “to preserve the reputation of the al-Sadr family and in order to end all the evils that have occurred or are likely to fall under its title.”
He added that “ending the suffering of the people and getting out of politics and politicians” requires withdrawing from politics.
At the time, he announced the closure of all offices affiliated with the movement and its annexes “at all religious, social, political and other levels.”
The retirement did not last long, until the Sadrist movement participated in the parliamentary elections and won about 34 seats in the name of the “Ahrar bloc”.
On April 20, 2016, al-Sadr decided to freeze his movement’s “Ahrar” bloc in parliament, warning that the sit-ins carried out by his supporters would turn into a “other face” if they were prevented by the security forces.
Before al-Sadr’s decision to retire, the bloc’s members (34 out of 328 seats) were in parliament; They are carrying out a sit-in inside the parliament building, to pressure for the purpose of electing a new Presidency for the House of Representatives.
Al-Sadr said at the time in a statement, “The Al-Ahrar bloc must withdraw, not engage in political polemics, and freeze the bloc’s work.”
The leader of the Sadrist movement called on his followers to continue peaceful protests “in order to be a pressure card on politicians.”
Since the beginning of March 2016, Muqtada al-Sadr has escalated his stances against the government and parliament, and called on his supporters to continue the protests until the demands are met, most notably referring the corrupt to the judiciary, ending the quota policy in the distribution of positions, and forming a technocratic government.
In the year that al-Sadr decided to freeze the “Ahrar” bloc, in July 2016, he issued a decision “to form a committee to vacate all the movement’s offices in the governorates of Iraq, except for the Najaf office.”
In a statement at the time, he said, “The current offices will be converted into residential homes to house the poor and those with limited incomes.”
In October 2016, al-Sadr ended his boycott of the meetings of the National Alliance (the largest bloc in Parliament) at the time, and the “Ahrar” bloc submitted its demands for implementation to ensure their return to the meetings again.
On October 4, 2018, the leader of the Sadrist movement renewed his determination to withdraw from political life and committed himself not to submitting any candidate to the Iraqi government, the “Sairoon” coalition that supports it.
Al-Sadr said in a statement, “We have been instructed not to nominate any minister for any ministry on our side, no matter what.”
“We were instructed to form a ministerial group without partisan pressure or sectarian or ethnic quotas, while preserving the beautiful Iraqi mosaic,” he added.
The sixth retirement came in December 2019 when the special office of Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he had “directed the closure of all institutions affiliated with the Sadrist line for a whole year”, with the exception of the shrine of his father, two brothers, and his private office.
These measures were followed by the closing of the two pages of Muhammad Salih al-Iraqi, known as “the Minister of al-Sadr”, on Twitter and Facebook.
On July 15, 2021, al-Sadr announced for the seventh time his withdrawal from the political process in Iraq and abstaining from his party’s candidacy for elections.
In a speech, he said, “In order to preserve what is left of the homeland that the corrupt have burned and are still burning, and to save it, we inform you that I will not participate in these elections. The homeland is more important than all that.”
He explained at the time that he was “withdrawing his hand from all those belonging to the current and subsequent government,” and added that “everyone is under pain of reckoning.”
Three months after the announcement of the withdrawal, his movement returned to run again in the parliamentary elections, achieving high results.
On June 15, 2022, al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics for the eighth time “in protest against corruption,” and said that he had decided to withdraw from the political process and not participate in any future elections so as not to partner with corrupt politicians.
Al-Sadr’s announcement came during his meeting in Najaf (south of Baghdad) with the Sadrist bloc’s representatives (73 out of 329) who – days before Al-Sadr’s announcement – submitted their resignation from Parliament 8 months after the legislative elections, during which they were unable to form a government.
The leader of the Sadrist movement described the step as “a sacrifice from me for the sake of the homeland and the people to rid them of their unknown fate.”
He added at the time, “I want to tell you, in the upcoming elections, I will not participate in the presence of corrupt people.”
On August 29, Muqtada al-Sadr announced his latest retirement from political work before proposing, in a new initiative, the resignation of all political parties to put an end to the crisis in Iraq.
Al-Sadr decided to “finally retire” this time, not to interfere in political affairs once and for all, and to close down his institutions, with the exception of the “Holy Shrine”, the “Sharif Museum” and the “Al-Sadr Heritage Authority”.
He added, “Everyone is free from me, and if I die or am killed, I ask you Al-Fatihah and supplication.”
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