How Moqtada al-Sadr went from anti-American outlaw to potential kingmaker in Iraq

 

A poster shows Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, left, and cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in Sadr City, east of Baghdad, on May 14. (Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty Images)
 May 14 at 7:45 PM  

 As an awkward young cleric with a family name weightier than his own achievements, Moqtada al-Sadr began his quest for prominence after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. It rested on a sense of homegrown nationalism, a steely opposition to foreign domination and a willingness to fight.

He criticized political figures who were backed by Iran or promoted by Americans as unworthy of leadership. “The people who deserve to rule are the ones who stayed here,” he said, sending his loyalists to battle US troops repeatedly in the early years of the US occupation.

The labels he earned from US officials reflected his growing notoriety: Over time, he went from “rabble-rouser” to “outlaw,” wanted by the US government.

Now, Sadr is poised to assume a new sobriquet: kingmaker, after leading a political coalition to what appeared to be an early lead in national elections in Iraq. Sadr did not run in the election but may be able to choose Iraq’s next leader.

If the election results hold, it would cap a stunning evolution for Sadr, marking his transformation from the feared head of a Shiite militia to a populist political leader who has disavowed Iraq’s entrenched sectarianism. The coalition he collected for the elections, which includes communist and secular figures, could upend Iraq’s political order and dilute the influence of the United States as well as Iran.

What brought Sadr out of the fringes of Shiite-centric politics was neither military nor religious, but rather his embrace of a wave of popular demonstrations over quality of life and Iraq’s stagnant politics.

Ahmed al-Mayali, a political scientist at the University of Baghdad, said Sadr’s image had evolved from sectarian militant to populist in the aftermath of the Islamic State onslaught in 2014 , which left the radical Islamist group in charge of a large slice of northern and western Iraq.

Sadr used his considerable power to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to an chrono popular protest movement calling for political overhauls.

“He began demanding what the street was demanding,” Mayali said. “He protested with them and addressed all Iraqis in a simple language everyone could understand. The language of ‘I’m one of you, not an elite.’ 

“This cave has more supporters than he had before,” Mayali added.

In the immediate aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sadr’s support derived mainly from his famous name. His father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, was a revered cleric who was assassinated, along with two of his sons, by Hussein’s security forces in 1999.

In the post-invasion chaos, the younger Sadr deployed his father’s network to provide for the residents of Baghdad’s impoverished quarters.

“Faithful to his father’s populist vision, his organization had become a kind of street movement, from the Iraqi equivalent of the barrio, imbued with a substantial antagonism to traditional Shiite authority and to the power those families represented,” the writer and Washington Post correspondent Anthony Shadid wrote in “Night Draws Near,” his chronicle of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

Sadr was distinct from the returning Iraqi exiles who were seeking power in Baghdad because he had stayed in Iraq during the worst of Hussein’sression, Shadid wrote.

“Like the poor Shiites, Sadr had suffered loss: his father, his brothers, and many of his other relatives were martyrs of the community. He spoke like the dispossessed; he even looked like them. “

His rhetoric – of rebellion and resistance to foreign influence – transformed into violent confrontation as Sadr’s Mahdi Army led uprisings against the US-led coalition in several Iraqi cities and became one of the most feared militias during the years of Iraq’s sectarian civil war.

After years of self-imposed retirement from politics, Sadr returned to the limelight several years ago, latching onto a movement demonstrating against corruption by Iraq’s political elite and calling for a new government.

In the protest tents, he earned the trust of secular and reformist political movements that underpinned his diverse ballot in Saturday’s election. They became allies for his own growing political base of supporters, a movement characterized by the kind of devotion Sadr’s father had enjoyed a generation ago. “They follow him because they are convinced of him,” Mayali said.

Fahim reported from Istanbul.

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Sulaymani in Baghdad to discuss the formation of a Shiite alliance leading the new Iraqi government

 

Baghdad / Al-Ghad Press:
The commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qasim Soleimani, on Tuesday, the Iraqi capital Baghdad to discuss the form of the next government with the political forces holding seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives.

And learned “Al-Press” informed sources, that Sulaimani will hold talks on Tuesday with leaders of the Shiite blocs winning the parliamentary elections to form an alliance leading the new Iraqi government.
The sources said that Sulaimani’s visit comes after the announcement of the Electoral Commission results of more than 90% of the number of votes, and the emergence of the features of the blocks winning the elections.
The sources pointed out that this visit is not announced in conjunction with the emergence of signs of Saudi support for the alliance and continue to seek to establish a coalition of Sunni forces have won a number of seats qualified to enter into an alliance with the bloc of Sausun, supported by the leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr.
A source close to the coalition of the rule of law, led by Nuri al-Maliki, said on Monday that a coalition may sign, including 4 blocks won the last parliamentary elections.
The source told “Al-Ghad Press” that “the signs of the formation of an alliance led by the rule of law led by Nuri al-Maliki, and includes the opening headed by Hadi al-Amiri and the national led by Iyad Allawi,” pointing out that “the leaders of the three alliances entered a tripartite meeting now and may be announced in the next few hours “He said.

 

Wall Street Journal: Sadr broke the influence of Tehran and Washington will not pollute himself as prime minister!

Policy  2018/05/14 23:40  2595  Editor: hr

Baghdad today – follow-up

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, in a parliamentary election is a political breakthrough by Iraqi voters in the face of US and Iranian influence in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

“Al-Sadr’s list of election results will force Tehran and Washington to face the prospect of a leading critic in both of them choosing the next prime minister of Iraq,” the newspaper said in a report published today.

“In an election that was seen as a competition between the United States and Iran over influence in Iraq, Sadr’s advance in unfinished primary results has dimmed the political landscape.”

“Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has implicit support from the United States, and candidates from Iran have left Sadr’s unlikely coalition with the Communists in Iraq,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Sadr “carries as a politician a national message that rejects the influence of Iraq’s biggest allies: the United States and Iran.”

“Despite Sadr’s antagonism toward the United States, his preferences may be more closely aligned with Washington than Iran’s preferences.” He continued with America’s Sunni allies and showed his support for Abadi, who led the country to victory over a militant organization, Sectarian divide in Iraq. ”

“The Iraqi political camp closest to the interests of Iran lost the election battle and won the other camp,” said Alaa Mustafa, a political analyst and professor at Baghdad University.

The newspaper noted that “with the lead by the coalition led by Sadr in the preliminary results in 10 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, is expected to have the upper hand in forming the next government.”

“It is unlikely that Sadr himself is prime minister,” she said, adding that “he prefers to remain a spiritual leader is not polluted to get the post,” as he described.

She pointed out that “may choose a coalition of at least one of those who received the queue as a partner to form the largest bloc, which is entitled to nominate a prime minister in the first session of the parliament,” pointing out that the results indicate so far that “the Sadr will choose between the alliance or the alliance of Fatah, Represents the Shiite factions with close ties with Iran. ”

In an interview last year, Sadr said he supported a second term for Abadi, praising him for regaining control of the country from an outlawed organization, and because of the way he treated the Kurds after having conducted a referendum About independence last year without shedding blood and wide, considering that all this makes him able to lead Iraq in the next stage.

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Contacts between the chest and the slaves in preparation for the formation of the Iraqi government

 

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Prime Minister outgoing Haider Abadi, in his speech yesterday that he is about to agree with the Sadrist movement, which won the first place in the parliamentary elections according to the semi-final results.

Abadi used the same vocabulary of the leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr, calling on the political blocs to respect the results of parliamentary elections.

“We congratulate all the winning blocs and their leaders, and we express our readiness to form the most powerful government free from corruption and quotas and prevent the return of terrorism,” he said in a speech. “We will take responsibility for leading the country and defending it until the new government is formed,” he said.

The semi-final results of the Iraqi elections, announced by the competent commission, confused the political scene after it included figures that exceeded most expectations.

Even hours before the IHEC conference to announce the results, the leaks tended to tip the list of “victory” led by Abadi, with a rival from the list of “Saron” supported by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, while ranked third in the list of “conquest” supported From Iran, led by Hadi al-Amiri.

But the official semi-final results, announced by the commission on Monday morning, revealed a clear superiority of the list backed by Sadr, and fierce competition between Abadi and Amiri ranked second.

The Sadrist list, which includes Sadrists and candidates from the Iraqi Communist Party and other Sunni politicians, won first place in four provinces, including the capital, Baghdad, where 200,000 votes were counted on the Fatah list, which ranked second.

In the most prominent Shiite stronghold, Basra, Iraq’s economic capital, the Iran-backed list won an important victory, Sadr’s list came again, and Abadi finished third.

The Iraqi political writer Farouk Yousef said that “coordination by Sadr with Abadi may be nothing but an expression of the alliance of the oppressor to push for greater damage is the emergence of the list of the opening led by a leader of the popular crowd, a force that was very popular, although that list did not enter the elections in Earlier it did not have an election date. As it seems, it stole the bulk of the share of Abbadi in his victory over the preacher. “

But the most striking paradox of the Iraqi elections was the achievement of Abadi, the Shiite prime minister, the first place in a single province, Nineveh, although it is the largest Sunni stronghold in Iraq.

In total, Abadi achieved about 11 seats in the Sunni areas, equivalent to about a quarter of his seats in the Iraqi parliament, one of the most significant changes that colored the Iraqi elections in 2018.

A Shi’ite list led by a leader of an Islamist party has never won a seat in Sunni constituencies in Iraq.

But this breakthrough, which Ebadi has achieved in the Sunni areas, seems unlikely to accompany him, in the presence of other Shi’ite lists, which now have close numbers.

“Despite Abadi’s unprecedented breakthroughs on the Sunni front, victory over a supporter was not a persuasive factor for voters in predominantly Shiite cities,” Youssef said. So his decline in proportion to the percentage of votes he received is a surprise election, as it was not negligence (former Prime Minister) Nuri al-Maliki and his list to form any kind of surprise. “

According to these results, which did not give the list a decisive victory, the winners will have to negotiate long to form a coalition government and agree on the name of the candidate for prime minister and members of his government.

The progress of the Sawson list is a blow to Iran. Months ago Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Iran would not allow the return of the Communists and liberals to power in Iraq, referring to Sadr’s list of members of the Iraqi Communist Party.

Observers are likely to start contacts to form a coalition that will choose the next prime minister soon, between Sadr and Abadi, and perhaps the leader of the stream of wisdom Ammar al-Hakim, which won the list of nearly 19 seats.

Observers in Baghdad classify the three leaders within the so-called “Shiite moderation circle” in the face of the “radical Shiite circle,” known for its proximity to Iran, and includes armed factions affiliated with the “conquest” led by Hadi al-Ameri, and the coalition of the rule of law led by al-Maliki.

If the first team fails to form a parliamentary coalition that provides the necessary cover for the government, the opportunity will be favorable for the second team.

The coalition, which will form the government, must have 165 seats, in order to be able to obtain the majority that qualifies it to govern, through the Iraqi parliament, composed of 329 deputies.

It is likely that no Shiite team will be able to form a government on its own, and will be required to search for Sunni and Kurdish allies.

And nominate observers alliance; the national component of Shiite deputies and a year led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and the resolution dominated by the Sunni character led by Khamis Khanjar, to rapprochement with any alliance formed by Sadr and Abadi and Hakim.

Yousef stressed that “the closest to logic to ally the two lists of victory and others in order to achieve a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives until the acquisition of the post of prime minister, but that position will not be the share of Abadi in order to exclude the specter of the Dawa Party, which remains Abadi, If Abadi decided to resign from the party in order to ensure his stay in office for a second term. “

The failure of the Kurdish independence referendum on Iraq did not affect the political power of the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani.

The party maintained its strong Kurdish political power and won the largest number of seats won by a single party among all constituencies.

Despite his strained relationship with Abadi, against the background of the referendum, political sources do not exclude the opening of channels of communication by the alliance of Abadi – Sadr – Hakim, with Barzani, to join the coalition government

The Arabs

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{Euphrates News} publishes the results of 6 new provinces and the postponement of Kirkuk and Dahuk for tomorrow

 

Date of release: 2018/5/15 0:03 • 120 times read
(Baghdad: Al Furat News) The Electoral Commission announced on Monday the results of 6 other provinces and the survival of the results of the provinces of Kirkuk and Dahuk to investigate the complaint and accusations of fraud in them and postponed the announcement to Tuesday.
The commission was expected to complete Monday the announcement of the results of the eight provinces and the number of seats each winning list and its candidates after yesterday announced 10 results of the provinces, but seems to have postponed after the announcement of the results of Kirkuk and Dahuk.
The Electoral Commission announced the results of the provinces of Nineveh, Sulaymaniyah, Salah al-Din and Najaf Ashraf and Erbil and Maysan, and came as follows:
Nineveh .. The number of votes 910 thousand and 298 votes and the percentage of completed stations 91%, and the winning lists are:
1 – Coalition victory: 164 thousand and 714 votes
2- Kurdistan Democratic: 134 thousand and 782 votes
3 – National Coalition: 97 thousand and 58 votes
4 – Nineveh Our identity: 78 thousand and 793 votes
5 – The Conquest of the Alliance: 73 thousand and 253 votes
6- Iraqi decision: 65 thousand and 76 votes
7. National masses: 53 thousand And 178 votes
8. Democratic approach: 36,964 votes
9. PUK: 32,141 votes
10. Tamdun: 27,778 votes.
Sulaymaniyah .. The number of votes 656 thousand and 507 votes and the percentage of completed stations 91%, and the winning lists are:
1 – Patriotic Union of Kurdistan “262 and 128 votes
2 – Movement of Change {Kuran}: 149 thousand and 903 thousand votes
3 – 61 thousand and 638 votes
4 – Kurdistan Islamic Group: 49 thousand and 343 votes
5 – Kurdistan Democratic Party: 46 thousand and 567 votes
6 – Alliance for Democracy and Justice: 44 thousand and 976 votes
7 – Islamic Union of Kurdistan: 29 thousand and 161 votes
. The number of votes was 393 thousand and 468 votes, and the proportion of stations completed 92%, and the winning lists are:
1 – National masses: 76 thousand and 69 votes
2 – Alliance conquest: 62 thousand and 425 votes
3 – National Coalition: 54 thousand and 330 votes
4 – Coalition victory: 50 thousand and 437 votes
5 – Iraqi decision: 37 thousand and 171 votes
6 – Alliance Salah Religion Our identity: 30 thousand and 600 votes
7 – Iraq Earth: 20 thousand and 675 votes.
Najaf Ashraf .. The number of votes 374 thousand and 118 votes, and the percentage of completed stations 98%, and the winning lists are:
1 – Surrogates: 92 thousand and 26 votes
2 – Alliance conquest: 82 thousand and 838 votes
3 – Coalition victory: 71 thousand and 819 votes
4 – National Wisdom Current: 38 thousand and 99 votes
5 – coalition rule of law: 36 thousand and 808 votes.
Erbil .. The number of votes 628 thousand and 234 votes, and the proportion of stations completed 92%, and the winning lists are:
1 – Kurdistan Democratic Party: 316 thousand and one vote.
2 – Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: 77 thousand and 792 votes
3 – Movement of the new generation: 69 thousand and 123 votes
4 – Democratic Alliance and Justice: 49 thousand and 266 votes
5 – Movement of Change (Coran): 39 thousand and 809 votes.
6- Kurdistan Islamic Group: 35 thousand and 741 votes.
7- Kurdistan Islamic Union: 23,933 votes.
Maysan .. The number of votes 312 thousand and 806 votes, and the percentage of completed stations 98%, and the winning lists are:
1 – Surat: 133 thousand and 995 votes
2 – Alliance conquest: 63 thousand and 669 votes
3 – National Wisdom Current: 40 thousand and 166 votes
4 – Coalition of victory: 36 thousand and 257 votes
5 – coalition rule of law: 32 thousand and 137 votes

Talabani and McGurk are discussing the formation of the next Iraqi government

Twilight News

11 minutes ago

(Reuters) – Vice President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KDP) Qubad Talabani held a meeting with US President George W. Bush’s envoy to the International Coalition for the war against the United States and the two sides discussed steps to form the next Iraqi government.

On his Facebook page, Talabani wrote that in a meeting with McGowork, accompanied by US Ambassador to Iraq David Sulliman, he discussed the results of the parliamentary elections and the steps to form the next Iraqi government.

Keywords:

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