Moqtada al-Sadr’s growing clout

The World

By all accounts, Sadr has modest religious credentials but this Sadr biographer describes him as one of the most important people in Iraq. This was a demonstration in Basra last month held by Sadr supporters in the midst of a government led crackdown on Sadr’s forces and the next day Sadr refused to back down against requests from the government that his supporters drop their arms. Sadr comes one of the most revered families in Iraq. Most of Sadr’s supporters make up the poor of Iraq, including Sadr’s militias. The biographer says the Americans may be stuck with the Americans, like it or not. Sadr has tried to refrain from entering into direct military conflict with the Americans, but the Americans have recently sought elements of his militia out. This analyst says Sadr’s recent declaration that he would disband his militia if the top Shia clerics asked him to do so was a calculated move: he knew the senior clerics had been very quiet recently and have removed themselves from the political scene. The analyst says that’s bad news for Iraq and the US because the clerics had been a stabilizing move. The analyst says Sadr is on the fast track to become a top cleric and ayatollah. As long as Iraq remains unstable, poor Shiites will continue to look to Sadr.

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