Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned on Tuesday that the country faces dire consequences, including possible "partition" if real reform is not carried out.
Sistani, who has unmatched prestige in Iraq, has made several calls for reforms this month insisting on the importance of focusing on improving the judiciary. His calls have played a major role in a wide reform and anti-corruption campaign launched by the Iraqi prime minister Haider al Abadi.
Sistani responded to questions by Agence France-Presse from his office in a written statement.
"Today, if true reform is not realised by fighting corruption without mercy and realising social justice on different levels, it is expected that circumstances will become worse than before," he said.
"Iraq could be dragged to... partition and the like, God forbid," he added.
In Sistani's most direct warning yet on the possible consequences, he said that corruption had already cost Iraq the conflict with the ISIS, which have overrun wide territories in Iraq since last year. He accused Iraqi top officials of misusing power which led to ISIS’s control of the country.
He said that ISIS “would not have been able to control a large part of the territory of Iraq," without the corruption that particularly spread in the security forces.
Iraqi Parliament had approved Abadi's plan along with additional measures.
Abadi’s office said in a statement that he had ordered on Thursday - in a move ahead of his reform drive - "major cuts in the number of personal guards for officials and the presidencies and others, reaching up to 90 percent,"
A committee of specialists is to be formed to select candidates for senior posts.