Iraqi Clerics Warn Against Baghdad Embroilment Into Iran-U.S. Dispute

Iraq's populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said that any political party that would involve Iraq in a U.S.-Iran war 'would be the enemy of the Iraqi people'

Iraqi Shiite leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech to his supporters following Friday prayers at the grand mosque of Kufa in the central Iraqi shrine city, on May 3, 2019.
AFP

Two influential Shiite figures in Iraq are warning from pulling their country into a war between the United States and Iran, saying it would turn Iraq into a battlefield and inflict much harm.

Their comments came few hours after a rocket was fired into the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the sprawling U.S. Embassy. No injuries were reported and no group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launch.

Iraq's populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said in a statement on Monday that any political party that would involve Iraq in a U.S.-Iran war "would be the enemy of the Iraqi people."

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Qais al-Khazali, the leader of an Iranian-backed group, said he is opposed to operations that "give pretexts for war." As U.S.-Iran tensions escalate, there've been concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle.

President Donald Trump has warned Iran not to threaten the U.S. again or it'll face its "official end," shortly after the rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!," he said in a tweet.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been high since Trump's decision a year ago to pull America out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.