Iraqi Shia cleric condemns 'divisive' US military funding bill
Iraqi Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, has warned US Congress against passing a controversial Republican-initiated bill that would channel funds directly to various sects rather than through the central government.
Sadr described the proposed bill as the "start of an open division of Iraq" and a "major disaster", calling on the Iraqi people to "protect the land and different sects".
The bill was introduced on Monday into the House of Representatives. It propses one quarter of the $715m authorised to train Iraq forces is given directly to Kurdish and Sunni militias. Sadr used to lead the Mahdi army, a powerful Shia militia during the US occupation.
The US president, Barack Obama, has signalled his opposition to the bill - meaning it stands little to no chance of being enacted.
The Iraqi government has also rejected the provision.
"Any weapons supplying will be done only through the Iraqi government," it said. "The draft law... is rejected and it will lead to more division in the region and we urge it be stopped."
The National Coalition, led by Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi, stated that the US proposed bill did not surprise Iraq’s political power and people, nor did it come as a shock to anyone who observed US policies and ambitions in Iraq.
Coalition member Nayef al-Shamri told al-Araby al-Jadeed that dividing Iraq into three federal states on sectarian and racial basis was "one of the main goals of the US administration" and "the reason why it occupied Iraq".