Pop Francis bids his prayers to Iraqi people after bloody unrest

Pope Francis is accompanied by Iraq’s President Barham Salih and his wife Sarbagh Salih before departing for Rome, at Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq March 8, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — “Dialogue” and “Fraternity” are the sole way to resolve the current difficulties in Iraq, Pop Francis said on Wednesday, praying to the Iraqi people over the recent bloody unrest in Baghdad.

Deadly armed clashes erupted in the Iraqi capital, it was the worst fight for years, killing at least 23 people, after the supporters of a powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr soon after he announced that he is leaving politics, took the streets and clashed with Iran-aligned armed groups.

Speaking during his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said he is “following with concern the recent events that have taken place in Baghdad in recent days.”

“We ask God in prayer to grant peace to the Iraqi people,” he said, adding, “Dialogue and fraternity are the high road for confronting current difficulties and arriving at this goal.”

After the key leader announced his step down from political life, thousands of Sadr’s supporters stormed the international Green Zone of Baghdad, which houses the republican palace and foreign embassies, once a vital area to U.S. forces during the 2003 invasion.

Sadr’s step down coincided with a ten-month of unprecedented political deadlock in the country since an election in October.

Sadr’s party, the Sadrist movement, emerged as a new powerful bloc in the latest parliamentary election gaining 73 seats, claiming that it opposes any interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs, particularly reacting against Iran which has a great influence on the country’s politics.

Sadr finally announced that he is leaving politics after his party failed to form a majoritarian government out of Iran-aligned parties, precisely, his Shiite rival parties.

 

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