World

In Iraq, ISIS Advances, Shiite Cleric Issues Warning

NPR | June 22, 2014 9:34 a.m.

Contributed By:

Eyder Peralta

An Iraqi Shiite militiaman, a follower of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, jumps to break a placard with the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during a parade, in the northern oil rich province of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Saturday.

An Iraqi Shiite militiaman, a follower of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, jumps to break a placard with the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during a parade, in the northern oil rich province of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Saturday.

AP, Hussein Malla

Just how complicated a place is Iraq for the United States? Take a look at these two developments from today:

— Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant Sunni group that splintered from al-Qaida, continued its march, seizing two cities.

— Meanwhile, a Shiite cleric in Baghdad issued a warning to the United States. Nassir al Saedi said if the “occupier” came back, “we will be ready for you.”

As Fox News explains, after ISIS began making aggressive moves in Iraq, Shiite militias began to form. They could “represent a dangerous wild card in the new battle for Iraq.”

Al-Saedi, Fox adds, is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. A militia loyal to al-Sadr “battled U.S. troops and was blamed for attacks on Sunni civilians during the height of the country’s sectarian bloodletting in 2006 and 2007. The same was true of several Iran-backed militias in the years prior to the American withdrawal in 2011.”

As for ISIS’ march, the AP reports:

“The capture of the two towns — Qaim on the Syrian border Friday and Rawah on the Euphrates river Saturday— dealt another blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has struggled to push back against Islamic extremists and allied militants who have seized large swaths of the country’s north, including the second-largest city of Mosul.

“But while al-Maliki has come under mounting pressure to reach out to disaffected Kurds and Sunnis, the display of heavy weapons by the Shiite fighters indicated that forces beyond Baghdad’s control may be pushing the conflict toward a sectarian showdown.”

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