Prominent Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on the Shi’ite world to unite and wage jihad against invaders and extremist groups.
Sadr claimed in a statement that neighbouring Arab countries are planning an “intervention” in Iraq.
Several Arab states have joined the U.S.-led coalition to combat Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Syria and Iraq, while Saudi Arabia recently deployed its military against Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Sadr has now claimed that the al-Hashid al-Shaabi Shi’ite militia – an anti-IS force – now faces political challenges within its membership, causing a lack of unity.
The leading cleric – who formed the Mahdi Army militia group in April 2003 – also called for the expulsion of al-Hashid al-Shaabi members “who want to politicize jihad and victories against IS to use them for their gains.”
Al-Hashid al-Shaabi was established after a fatwa, a religious ruling, was issued by by Iranian-born Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in June 2014. Its purported role was to fight against IS insurgents in support of Iraqi Shi’ite forces.
Sadr also said: “There are plans for an Arabic intervention in the region and that should be prevented by rushing to liberate Anbar Province and Mosul.
“Hence, we stand against any foreign intervention and I call upon the government not to depend on the Americans to end terrorism in Iraq.”