KDP cadre’s tweet angers supporters of Iraq’s Sistani; party leader condemns his remarks

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A tweet by a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) cadre angered supporters of Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who later set the party’s office ablaze in Baghdad early on Monday. 

Naif Gargari, also known as Naif Kurdistani, took to Twitter on Sunday criticizing the highest Shia authority in Iraq, which is known as marja in Arabic.

Kurdistani wrote on Twitter: “I am with an Arabic marja from the prophet’s lineage … and not with an Indian, Persian or Afghan marja who are not of the lineage but wear black turbans.”

Shorty after the tweet, Sistani’s supporters surrounded KDP office in Baghdad’s Karada district and set it on fire in the early hours of Monday.

Kurdistani took to Twitter soon and apologized for the tweet, claiming that his account was hacked and that he was not responsible for the tweet.

The KDP released a statement following Kurdistani’s tweet condemning his remarks.

“That person has no relationship or affiliation with the KDP,” the party said, adding that the KDP respects marja and religious men.

Kurdistani has appeared on KDP’s television as an adviser to the party’s leader, Masoud Barzani, and in pictures with deputy leader Nechirvan Barzani and member of politburo Masrour Barzani.

In a separate statement on Monday, the KDP leader also denounced what he called “insults by a person against the marja”.

“Such inappropriate behaviors has nothing to do with Kurdistan’s people and the KDP,” he said.

Barzani further said Kurdistani had been detained and would face legal actions. 

He also condemned the attack on the party’s office in Baghdad, saying it was carried out by a group of “saboteur and defeated people” and that it was a proof of “anarchy, and the lack of security and instability in Iraq”.

The new development comes as the country is facing a political stalemate due to disagreements between the parties to elect a new president and prime minister.

On Saturday, the Iraqi parliament failed to select a president due to a lack of quorum.

Only 202 members of parliament out of 329 were present, which is less than the necessary two-thirds quorum needed to choose a new president for the mostly ceremonial post, while 126 lawmakers boycotted the session.

The vote on the president was postponed to Wednesday.

The delay prolongs a bitter deadlock in Iraqi politics months after an October general election from which Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr emerged the biggest winner, with his Shia, pro-Iran rivals receiving a hammering at the polls.

Under a power-sharing system designed to avoid sectarian conflict, Iraq’s president is a Kurd, its prime minister a Shia and its parliament speaker a Sunni.

Sadr has vowed to push through what he calls a “national majority” government, a euphemism for one that excludes pro-Iran groups.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi called for an end to the political stalemate in the country.

Iraqi President Barham Salih, who is running for a second term in office, also urged the political parties on Saturday to participate in “serious and effective dialogue to get out of the current crisis without delay”.

“The continuation of the political stalemate amid the serious challenges facing the country is unacceptable,” he said.

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