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[ad_1] BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iranian-backed Shi’ite factions have exhorted Iraqis to end up for a “million-strong” march on Friday aimed toward whipping up anti-American sentiment as the US’ battle with Iran performs out on the streets of Baghdad. FILE PHOTO: Folks stroll previous an image of Iranian Main-Basic Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Power, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, as it's seen in entrance of the previous U.S. Embassy's constructing in Tehran, Iran, January 21, 2020. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANAThese behind the rally have two objectives in thoughts - to strain Washington to tug its troops out of Iraq, and to eclipse the mass anti-government protests which have challenged their grip on energy. It's more likely to find yourself on the gates of the U.S. Embassy, the seat of U.S. energy in Iraq and the scene of violent clashes final month when militia supporters tried to storm the compound. It might flip nasty once more. The U.S. killing of Iranian navy mastermind Basic Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad this month has given renewed impetus to Iran’s allies in Iraq. However it has additionally raised the specter of extra civil strife in a rustic torn by years of sectarian battle, lawmakers, protesters and analysts say. “The assassination threw the political classes, and Iran-leaning actors in particular, a lifeline,” mentioned Fanar Haddad, senior analysis fellow on the Nationwide College of Singapore’s Center East Institute. “It created a counter-cause and a counter-crisis that pushed the protests out of the news cycle - albeit briefly.” The decision for Friday’s “million-strong” march got here from cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who opposes all international interference in Iraq however has lately aligned himself extra carefully with Iran. Protesters who've individually camped out for months in Baghdad and southern cities demonstrating towards the corrupt, Iran-allied authorities, concern the worst. “This million-man march is different from what the street wants. It supports the current political system in the country, it doesn’t oppose it,” mentioned Abdul Rahman al-Ghazali, a protester at Baghdad’s Tahrir Sq., a middle of the rebellion. Ghazali and different demonstrators mentioned their motion risked being sidelined by the energy in numbers – and weapons – of these marching towards the US. “I am not going to take part in the upcoming protests against America,” mentioned pupil Hussein Ali. BRINK OF WAR The killing of Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone assault introduced Iraq and the broader area to the brink of warfare between Tehran and Washington. The largest loser is Iraq, the place each powers vie for affect. Greater than 5,000 U.S. troops stay within the nation 17 years after the invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein. After an unlikely alliance of Iraqi forces, a U.S.-led coalition and the Iran-backed Shi’ite militias defeated Islamic State in 2017, Iraq went by two years of relative calm. Unrest that broke out in October when safety forces started killing largely peaceable demonstrators shattered that calm, and U.S.-Iran pressure has added to the chaos. The protests have been dominated by younger folks, a technology blighted by rampant unemployment, a corruption-ridden political caste and the years of battle. Regardless of Iraq’s oil wealth, many individuals languish in poverty. Greater than 450 folks have been killed as safety forces have fired dwell ammunition, rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters immediately at protesters, with battles raging on three bridges over the River Tigris resulting in Baghdad’s Inexperienced Zone. Friday’s march dangers clashes between the anti-government protesters and the militia supporters who again the events that management authorities and parliament. Analyst Haddad mentioned the anti-government protests would persist, nevertheless. The authorities shouldn't fail to kind a brand new authorities, he added. Iraqi factions have been wrangling for weeks over who will succeed caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November beneath strain from the road. SECTARIAN DIVISIONS RESURFACE The fallout from Soleimani’s killing additionally laid naked an additional fracturing of Iraqi politics, each amongst Shi’ite Muslims and as soon as once more on the sectarian traces dividing Shi’ites and Sunnis. Sadr and the Iran-aligned leaders intensified calls this month for U.S. troops to withdraw - a uncommon present of unity between rival Shi’ite teams. However such unity is just not anticipated to final lengthy and energy struggles will proceed, lawmakers say. Disagreements between Sadr and his foremost political rival Hadi al-Amiri, whose alliance of Iran-backed militias holds huge sway in parliament, might delay the method additional. Sadr vetoed the approaching nomination of a brand new prime minister backed by Amiri this week, a number of lawmakers mentioned. For the primary time in practically two years, parliament voted alongside sectarian traces to press the federal government to kick out U.S. forces. Shi’ite events voted in favor, whereas Sunni Muslim and Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the session. “When Iraq faced the security challenge of IS, there was a healthy political process, but now the country is broken and this is gone,” mentioned a senior Iraqi politician who spoke on situation of anonymity. Further reporting, enhancing by John DavisonOur Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. [ad_2] Source link Ahmed Rasheed