Al-Sadr supports close Al-Hikma movement's HQ, heightening security concerns before Iraq's provincial polls
As the countdown continues for Iraq's provincial elections set for the 18th of this month, supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr early on Wednesday, 6 December, have forcibly closed the headquarters of the Al-Hikma Movement in the capital city of Baghdad, and several other provinces. This has posed significant security challenges in the lead-up to the elections.
Dozens of followers of the Sadrist movement, led by Moqtada Al-Sadr, forcefully entered the headquarters of the Al-Hikma Movement, led by Ammar Al-Hamim, in the Jamila neighbourhood in the eastern part of the capital.
According to videos circulated by Iraqis on X social media platform, Sadr followers chanted slogans glorifying their leader and tore apart pictures of the party's candidates in some areas of the capital city of Baghdad, as well as in the provinces of Dhi Qar and Qadisia.
Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr on 13 November called on his supporters to boycott local elections; a move analysts expect will cause a low voter turnout.
🔴 عاجل— Dr. Haider Salman (@sahaider75) December 5, 2023
العشرات من اتباع التيار الصدري يقتحمون مقر لتيار الحكمة في منطقة جميلة شرقي بغداد احتجاجاً على تغريدة منسوبة لبليغ ابو كلل.
وقبل قليل هجوم اخر على مقر تيار الحكمة في بعقوبة مركز محافظة ديالى.
هذا الهجوم هو الاحدث، وقد سبقه هجوم على مقرات حزب الدعوة في البصرة والنجف. pic.twitter.com/2Ot1FZWytI
Sadr claimed that a boycott would weaken the legitimacy of internal and international elections.
Iraq will hold provincial elections on 18 December, the first local elections in over a decade. The elected provincial councils are responsible for selecting the governor and the governorate's executive officials.
According to local Iraqi media outlets, the protestors were angered by a widely circulated post attributed to Al-Hikma Movement politburo member Baleeg Abu Kalal, who disassociated himself from the post that criticized the Sadrist movement for boycotting the local elections in Iraq.
The post accuses Sadr followers of overturning the Shia and attempting to make them a minority, describing them as the Kharijites who fought against Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad and his son-in-law and the fourth Caliph.
Abu Kalal wrote on the former X-Twitter platform, describing the post attributed to him as "forged."
The Al-Hikma Movement Political Bureau, in a statement on Wednesday, said the assaults on its headquarters are aimed to "terrify" voters from participating in the elections that should be held in due time. It also stressed they would file legal cases against the perpetrators, asking the security forces to secure their headquarters and persecute the committers to keep order and peace.
Late on Wednesday, Iraq's Prime Minister, Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, met with senior commanders of different security forces, reiterating the need to secure the voting process.
"It is imperative to maintain the electoral process and enforce the law as per the constitutional contexts to hold accountable anyone obstructing its progress," al-Sudani was quoted by Iraq's News Agency (INA) as saying.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the progress of the security plan that will be implemented during the elections to secure the electoral process in Baghdad and the provinces, the agency added, indicating Sudani emphasized the necessity of continually updating the plan "to be able to adapt to any unexpected security developments."
As Sadr loyalists continue escalating their attacks on different Iraqi parties, including the Shiite Dawa Party, since last month, there is a possibility that the local elections will be postponed if Sadr agrees to participate in the polls afterwards.
Sadr announced he was exiting political life in conflict-scarred Iraq in August last year after a long summer of violent demonstrations and a sit-in by his supporters at the parliament building.