Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to storm Baghdad's Green Zone. (AlArabiya).
Powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to send his supporters to "storm" Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the country's government headquarters and foreign diplomatic missions.
Sadr made the threat on the back of a worsening political crisis in the ranks of the ruling National Alliance over quotas in the expected cabinet reshuffle.
But Sadr reassured foreign embassies they would not be harmed.
"If the people decided to enter the Green (Zone), there will be no assaults on embassies," he said.
"As for the embassies of the occupation Britain and America, I have told them that they must remain silent or withdraw. If they intervene in any way (against protesters) this will make them among the villains."
The escalation by Muqatada Sadr follows the failure of negotiations among the factions that make up the ruling coalition, regarding the political reforms planned by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Reported Iranian and even US mediation efforts have been in vain as a critical meeting of the National Alliance in Karbala on Sunday concluded without an agreement.
Sources present in the meeting told The New Arab that talks were tense and unfriendly, prompting Muqtada al-Sadr to withdraw.
The sources said Sadr issued direct threats to other members of the coalition present if his group's demands were not met.
Sadr has since pledged protests would continue, accusing the prime minister of having no clear project. Sadr said the protests would remain peaceful, confirming major demonstrations would take place on Friday in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq.
#BreakingNews:— Elijah J. Magnier (@EjmAlrai) March 8, 2016
Just received a communique 4m Moqtada al-Sadr office in #Najaf. Would he repeats d experience of d #USA embassy 1979 n Iraq?