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January 23, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8518

Muqtada Al-Sadr, Shi'ite Militia Leaders Ramp Up Calls For Anti-U.S. March

January 23, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8518

On January 23, 2020, Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr issued a new statement aimed at mobilizing more people to participate in Friday's planned one-million-man march to end the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Under the title "A Thought," Al-Sadr's message asked Iraqi men, women and children to answer "the call of the homeland... the time to reform Iraq's system and to evict invaders is now... Hasten to support the beloved [homeland], as it is calling to you, and do not renege on your vow."


Al-Sadr's tweeted message

The previous day, January 22, Al-Sadr's spokesman Salah Al-Obaidi told the state-run Al-Iraqyia TV[1] that "the instructions given by Al-Sadr last week regarding his proposed march underline that the participation of militias, including those who targeted the U.S. Embassy, is not wanted."[2]

On January 23, Saleh Mohammad Al-Iraqi, an affiliate of Al-Sadr, tweeted a poster titled "It has to be a million," in reference to the number of participants the organizers aim to mobilize.


The tweeted poster.

The previous day, the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), whose leaders had met with Al-Sadr in Qom earlier this month,[3] issued statements and messages to ramp up calls for a unified position against the U.S. presence in Iraq.  

On January 22, Qais Al-Khazali, the secretary-general of the PMU group Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, appeared in a video message in which he called on Iraqis from all religions and sects to join the anti-U.S. demonstration. Referring to the Iraqi parliament's decision to expel the U.S. forces, he said: "In Iraq, the fighters of the Popular Mobilization Units are the ones who defeated the American terrorist takfiri scheme of ISIS. These same fighters are the now the heroes of the resistance [movement]. They are at the highest levels of readiness should the U.S. continue to reject the political and public decision."


Al-Khazali in his video message (Source: Youtube.com/watch?v=jipoqYbXS4MYouTube, January 22, 2020)

He further explained that this decision "will be evidenced by the millions who will come out Friday to show the world that the Iraqi youth and resistance are capable of forcing all occupation forces to withdraw."

The video message signals Al-Khazali's first media appearance since the funerals of IRGC Qods Force commander Khazali and PMU deputy commander Abu Mahdi Al- Muhandis.

Earlier, on January 22, the Hizbullah Brigades in Iraq issued a statement calling on Sunnis and Shi'ites to join the demonstration.[4] The statement described Friday's march as "the second 1920 revolution," referring to a revolt by Iraqi tribes against the British occupation.


The Hizbullah Brigades statement (Source: Kataibhezbollah.com)

"For those whose grandparents did not have the honor of fighting the British occupation in the first revolution of 1920, you have the chance to write your name in letters of gold on this page of the struggle, to be a source of pride for your children and grandchildren and a beacon for future generations," the statement said.

A statement by the Al-Nujaba Movement in Iraq called on Iraqis to join the march to "reject the powers of the global arrogance" – a term for the U.S. used by the Iranian regime.


The Al-Nujaba statement (Source: Alsumaria.tv)

The statement went on to remind Iraqis: "The Great Satan [the U.S.], with its supporters, want to intimidate you, yet they are weak... The world is awaiting an historic stance from Iraq – a stance that will reject humiliation and honor Iraq and determine its future."

 

[1] Nasnews.com, January 22, 2020.

[4] Kataibhezbollah.com/news/3063?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=4c5db14f2d7eb2546a0fd655e0e5de4a334e4165-1579790459-0-AZ3ne2rLXiglxXgVJB2sf895VTyrubetUwakfMGan9bmzAn_bLzitkZ9Jj72jssklxZ_4s3rJpGxznEjsnl4k8YWwcrL4VtRd9snZrVj
136gu_8rLxC_SZ14u5InwCGD5LfCRi_0Ak6Pj-hFDqo6Cgdexc2DU8GtNkBFVuo3gOoUzg8sk2NtPmA4kQ-I6tjLwZzbSP-D2Mog0Ys1XuD3QSzLSzOthJJX20MIN3r4KeVN2ltOwEorh4uka2ZCj_g18Yra1Q0THKyRAyrY7pvmvH8,January 22, 2020.

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