The confirmation by Moqtada al-Sadr, that his political movement will boycott the Iraqi Parliament, has sparked fears of a major upsurge in violence. His spokesman made it clear that the Shi’ite cleric is withdrawing six ministers, and vacating nearly a quarter of the parliamentary seats, because of the continued US presence in Iraq.
Al-Sadr is demanding a timetable for their withdrawal. He says it is what the Iraqi people want and that he must support their views. Moqtada al-Sadr has long demanded an end to the “US occupation”, as he calls it. His “Mehdi Army” fought two uprisings against allied troops in 2004. He wants the Iraqi government to force the issue. The fears now are that he may openly resort to violence once more to achieve his demands.
As the number of people killed and injured in Iraq rises everyday the US has accused al-Sadr of playing a political game with one hand, while organising bombings and sectarian killings with the other. The Shi’ite cleric did not appear at the press announcement. It is rumoured he is in Iran, taking refuge from the US troop crackdown, but his supporters insist he is still in Iraq.