Saturday's demonstration of followers of Shia cleric Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi
Iraq can be portrayed as a country of homogeneous Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish blocs. That is far too simplistic: consider the recent demonstrations in Baghdad by followers of the Sadrist splinter group of Shi’a cleric Hassan al-Sarkhi.
The trouble began on February 17, when a recently-opened office of Shia cleric Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi was set on fire. Supporters of Sarkhi blamed followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq, and violence between the two groups has escalated since them. As analysts Reidar Visser said concisely, "Impression is sec[urity] forces confrontation w/ Sarkhi followers is growing trend over past months. Also Sistani vs Sarkhi."