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Speculation Rife on Muqtada Sadr’s Whereabouts

Speculation Rife on Muqtada Sadr’s Whereabouts

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 08:00
Muqtada Sadr. NNA file photo
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa
The whereabouts of Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr has been keeping Iraqis busy amid claims that he has been ill or has been infuriated by the country’s political situation.

The Shiite cleric’s last tweet was posted on his account more than three months ago.

Last month, unofficial reports said Sadr visited Beirut, where he met with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Suleimani.

At the time, the cleric’s office neither confirmed nor denied the news. It hasn’t even issued a statement justifying Sadr’s absence from Iraq’s political scene.

Some observers said Sadr has fallen ill, while others claimed the Shiite cleric has been “angered” by the country’s political developments, mainly the failure to finalize the government formation process.

Bahaa Al Araji, a member of the Sadrist Movement and a former deputy Prime Minister, made a statement on Monday night, prompting a response from Sadr’s spokesman.

Araji denied Sadr was sick, blaming the political crisis on the cleric’s decision not to make any statements or be seen in public.

The cleric would soon make an initiative to change the “political equation,” including a possible dismissal of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Hadi’s government and the nomination of former PM Haider Abadi, Araji said.

Speculation about Sadr’s whereabouts has become more intense by the sudden appearance of former deputy Jaafar Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, the cousin of Muqtada.

Jaafar had been absent from the political scene since his resignation from Parliament in 2011.

But lately, Jaafar has held a series of meetings with a number of politicians, including Abdul Hadi, Abadi, Speaker Mohammed Halbousi and head of the Hikmat Movement Ammar al-Hakim.

Jaafar is expected to meet Thursday with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf.

On Tuesday, Muqtada al-Sadr's spokesman Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi refused to comment on Jaafar’s latest meetings.

For its part, the Nasr Coalition, led by Abadi, denied any intentions to oust Abdul Hadi.

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