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Iraq's Sadr says Saudis, US stoking sectarian tension

FRANCE 24 screen grab

Moqtada al-Sadr, head of a powerful Shiite movement in Iraq, has called on Saudi Arabia to end its military intervention in Yemen. In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, the cleric accused both Riyadh and the US of worsening sectarian tensions.

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The Shiite leader, who rarely speaks to Western media, spoke to FRANCE 24 on a wide range of issues, including the advance of the Islamic State (IS) group, Iranian-backed militias waging war in Iraq’s Sunni provinces, and the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

“The Saudi intervention in Yemen is accentuating the conflict between communities,” Sadr said, heaping blame on President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is backed by the Saudi kingdom.

“If Saudia Arabia stopped its offensive against Yemen, it would be easier to achieve peace and stability in the region and ease tensions between Sunnis and Shiites," he said.

Sadr was interviewed by FRANCE 24’s Michel Kik on June 13, 2015, in the cleric’s office in the Iraqi city of Najaf, in the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq.

In characteristic form, Sadr also lashed out against Washington for “sowing divisions” in the Middle East. “America gives arms to Sunnis, to Shiites, to Kurds, heightening sectarianism and ethnic tensions,” he said.

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