April 12, 2017

HE'S NOT A SHI'ITE:

Iraq's Shiite clerics show no love for Assad (Ali Mamouri, April 11, 2017, Al Monitor)

In fact, Sadr's stance on the Syrian regime is not new, as other clerics have criticized the Syrian regime for its atrocities against its own people. They have also criticized Shiite militias for backing Assad in the fight against the Syrian opposition.

After the popular uprising against Assad when it broke out in March 2011, Sadr expressed his support in a November statement. Despite accusations that the Sadrist Movement, which is highly influential among Iraqi Shiites, was taking part in the Syrian conflict, he has denied any involvement by members of his party. He has also voiced his disapproval of other Shiite militias going to Syria to fight for Assad.

Sadr has expelled a number of fighters from his armed factions for having fought in Syria. Most recently, Sa'ad Swar, a former leader in Jaish al-Mahdi, announced his defection and formed Jaish al-Mou'mal in 2016 to fight in Syria and Iraq. Iran has used the defections as leverage to persuade more members to leave the Sadrist Movement in an attempt to weaken the party, especially after Sadr had voiced opposition to Iran's regional policy. Many factions have split from the Sadrist Movement, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the former Hezbollah al-Nujaba.

Many prominent Najaf clerics have never supported the Syrian regime, with some even forbidding their followers to fight in Syria. Four prominent Najaf clergymen -- Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Sheikh Ishaq al-Fayyad, Seyed Mohammad Sa'id al-Hakim and Sheikh Bashir al-Najafi -- were quoted by Asharq Alawsat as adopting a unified stance in 2013: "Individuals who go to Syria for jihad are disobeying the commands of religious authorities." In Qom, no prominent clerics have issued fatwas in support of sending Shiite fighters to Syria.

Posted by at April 12, 2017 5:43 AM

  

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