Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the country’s latest parliamentary elections, called for the dissolution of Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades), the militia wing of his movement, for the sake of “public interest” on Thursday as he seeks the formation of Iraq’s next government.
According to Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, Sadr based his decision to disband his “peace brigades” in all locations throughout Iraq, except for in Samarra and Karbala, home to important Shi’ite shrines, and in Baghdad, “for the sake of public interest and to strengthen the next Iraqi government – if any – and strengthen the army, police and security forces.”
The Andalou Agency reported that “Al-Sadr ordered Saraya al-Salam, or the Peace Brigades, to hand over the weapons they were given to fight the Daesh terrorist group to the Iraqi government and banned the group from launching any operation outside Iraq.”
He reportedly has also forbidden his militiamen to wear their military uniforms outside of Samara and Karbala and demanded their weapons be properly stored.
The orders will reportedly expire in five years.
The announcement arrives in the midst of twin explosions in an arms depot in Sadr city earlier this month which left nearly 20 people dead. The weapons are believed to have belonged to Sadr’s militias in the area.
In the meantime, Iraq’s Parliament voted on June 6 to amend the country’s election law, over allegations of voter fraud, thus allowing votes to be recounted manually.
The Associated Press reported, “A hand recount of all 11 million ballots could take weeks, if not longer, and promises to delay the already sluggish process of forming a new government.”
A recount is currently underway.
Sadr reportedly called on his supporters to respect the recount ruling saying, “I call on everyone to show restraint and deference to the law, even if they are not convinced by it.”