Tensions between Shia factions rise after killing of finance director

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi to distance itself from politics.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The murder of Hashd al-Shaabi’s finance director has created tensions among various Iraqi Shia factions as well-known Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on the Hashd al-Shaabi to distance itself from politics, London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported.

On Monday, Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi’s Finance Director Qassim al-Zubaidi died in hospital after being severely injured in an assassination attempt in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sadr said Zubaidi was killed by “the hands of treachery and sin.”

“We pray to God to distance evil from the rightful voices, and distance the Hashd al-Shaabi from politics,” he added, calling all sides “to break their silence over this heinous crime.”

Sadr also called on the Iraqi government to complete their investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice immediately.

No side has yet claimed responsibility for the death of the Hashd al-Shaabi official.

Zubaidi’s death has raised tensions among Shia parties and militia groups as Ali Sistani, an influential Iranian cleric in Iraq, is expected to make a statement about the elections where he might call on Hashd al-Shaabi factions not to participate in the polls, al-Hayat reported.

Meanwhile, during a speech at an elections rally in Babil, Hadi al-Amiri, Head of the al-Fatih Coalition—which consists of Shia militia groups—denied using the Hashd al-Shaabi’s name for election purposes.

“Hashd al-Shaabi did not fight for the sake of elections, and they do not expect any rewards from anyone,” he stated.

Responding to Sadr’s statement, Liyth al-Adhari, a political representative of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, said, “Being proud of Hashd al-Shaabi’s achievement does not mean it should be used as elections propaganda. But we always support and defend them.”

According to the Shia militia official, the best example of an electoral coalition using the fight against the Islamic State as propaganda for their elections campaign is Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s al-Nasr (Victory) Coalition.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany