Najaf mall set on fire after Sadrist protesters fired upon by guards (Baghdad Today)
Moqtada al-Sadr announced a new purge of his movement. His office in Najaf issued a statement claiming that people were complaining about his followers and that he would expel those that were disloyal and did not following his directions. On Facebook, a Sadr aide said that most of his lieutenants had left the movement. This led to three protests on May 15 in Karbala, Qadisiya, and Najaf. In the last location several hundred showed up at a mall to demonstrate against a former Sadrist. Guards opened fire at the crowd killing four and wounding 17, which led to a mini-riot with the building being set on fire. Sadr was worried that things could escalate again and said that there should be no more gatherings during Ramadan.
Sadr has carried out similar actions several times before. It’s always appeared that his organization is large and unwieldly and that has led to various problems like breakaway factions, etc. As a result, there have been constant re-organizations and purges such as when the Mahdi Army was disbanded and replaced by Saraya al-Salam. Sadr also just went through a surge of support as people joined his militia during the war against the Islamic State, so it might have been predictable that he would try to slim things down afterward.
Baghdad Post, “Sadr calls on his followers not to sit in or demonstrate in the month of fasting,” 5/16/19
- “Sadr’s office in Najaf sends a message to those who have documents condemning people in the current,” 5/15/19
- “Security media: the arrest of 5 of the shooters on the demonstrators in Najaf,” 5/15/19
Buratha News, “Big differences within Sadr’s office and the latter reveals those who stayed with him,” 5/15/19
- “A former leader of the Peace Brigades announces his resignation from the Sadrist movement,” 5/16/19
- “Hundreds of followers of the Sadrist movement demonstrate in front of a company in Karbala belonging to a member of the Sadrist movement and close its doors,” 5/15/19
Al Mirbad, “Demonstration of the Sadrist movement in Diwaniya refuses to exploit party ties to state lands,” 5/15/19