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Iraq: Shiite Leader Stirs Up Baghdad Protests

February 26, 2016 | 21:27 GMT

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators led by Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Feb. 26 to protest government corruption and the slow pace of reform, Rudaw reported. Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement, gave a speech blaming economic problems on the government. Although flanked by the officers of his Saraya al-Salam Shiite militia, he deliberately criticized former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's pro-Shiite policies for contributing to the spread of the Sunni Islamic State. Sadr demanded that the Iraqi Army incorporate his Shiite paramilitary units into their ranks. Sadr met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Feb. 24 to discuss reform and the Cabinet reorganization announced Feb. 9. The  Iraqi government reshuffle will put the country in a delicate position, and the prime minister risks upsetting Iraq's delicately balanced government by replacing ministers who were appointed based on party or sectarian affiliation.