The controversial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is paving the way for the collapse of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government. On March 19, Sadr issued a strongly worded statement in which he criticized the government and declared that "staying in the government is a sin and a fatal error." When a Shiite cleric uses the word "sin" in Iraq, it serves to prohibit or forbid.
In the statement, released by his office in Beirut, Sadr said, "The government is selling its land to the south, and claims that al-Qaeda controls some of Iraq's western and northern provinces. The country is without a president, the parliament is weak, and the judiciary is politicized. Thus, staying in this government has become more damaging than useful; remaining in the government assists 'sin' and aggression."