Sadr warns Trump: US Embassy-move will trigger far-reaching repercussions

Sadr warns Trump: US Embassy-move will trigger far-reaching repercussions
Firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has added his voice to a growing cacophony of objectors to pledges made by Trump to move Washington's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem
2 min read
25 January, 2017
Forces loyal to Sadr fought against American troops after the 2003 US-lead invasion [AFP]

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Tuesday that if the newly inaugurated US President goes ahead with plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv it will be tantamount to a "declaration of war against Islam".

During his election campaign Trump called for the embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem, arousing support among many Israeli politicians, but generating fear among Palestinians that his White House would support hawkish policies in the occupied territories. 

Speaking on Tuesday Sadr - a wily political operator whose forces once fought against US forces in Iraq, and whose supporters temporarily occupied Baghdad’s "Green Zone" last year - also said that if the US Embassy was moved then Washington's embassy in Iraq should be closed "immediately" even calling for the potential formation of a "special division to liberate Jerusalem were the decision to be implemented".

Sadr also called on the Cairo-based Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation - an international organisation of 57 member states - to take a stand on the issue. 

In a related development on Tuesday, Arabi21 reported that Jordanian officials were preparing to work against any potential attempts to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. This comes ahead of an Arab League summit scheduled to take place in Oman in March, with King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas having recently met and discussed the issue.

Palestinian and Arab leaders have warned that relocating the US embassy could foment popular discontent in the occupied territories and have far-reaching diplomatic repercussions. 

Demonstrations against such a move took place in a number of Palestinian cities and towns last week, with Israeli security forces on alert over the possibility of escalations of violence.  

Speaking on Sunday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration was "at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject," seemingly downplaying rumours that any move was imminent.