Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sadrists gain influence in Iraqi politics

'In Iraq’s last government, Mr. Sadr’s followers were accused of using their offices to spread corruption and sectarian enmity, with officials lining their pockets and death squads roaming public hospitals.

There are also remaining fears, among Americans and Iraqis, that the militia that helped bring Mr. Sadr to power initially — and was responsible for much of the sectarian violence that threatened to tear the country apart — could again be mobilized against his enemies, particularly after the American military finishes its withdrawal.

The growing strength of the movement could significantly complicate the United States’ relationship with Iraq. Mr. Sadr, who waged bloody street battles against American forces and Sunni Muslims, and his rank-and-file members insist that no American troops should remain on Iraqi soil, and they do not speak with American officials.

“We know there are going to be Sadrist ministries,” said an American diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic ground rules. “We want to make it work. But we will also be true to our own principles, and they may not want to work with us.”

In addition to the governor’s seat in Maysan, they are seeking control of service ministries and a slot as one of Mr. Maliki’s deputies.

“We’re going to get everything,” said Nasser al-Rubaie, a leading Sadrist politician, as he emerged from Parliament one afternoon.

The posture and power of the Sadrists have forced a shift in tone from American officials and erstwhile Iraqi rivals, who now find themselves thrown together an awkward partnership government.

After fully embracing the political process, Mr. Sadr’s candidates pulled off surprising victories to win 40 seats in last March’s elections. Female members of the Sadrist slate, who campaigned in black, head-to-toe abayas, fared particularly well compared with their secular counterparts.'


Iraqi Mojo said...

Baghdad Government Cracking Down On Alcohol Sales

Iraqi Mojo said...

"The Sadrists are now embracing — at least in public — the sunny tones of national unity and partnership, referring to Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers as brothers, not foes. After dozens of Christians were massacred at a Baghdad church on Oct. 31, members of Mr. Sadr’s group visited the priests to show the party’s solidarity.

They send out daily news releases to announce street-cleaning projects, new orphanages and community centers. And at Mr. Sadr’s behest, party leaders said that some newly elected lawmakers had been sent to Lebanon and Turkey to attend classes in public speaking and political etiquette."

Iraqi Mojo said...

'Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was engaged in a war of words on Friday with a splinter group from his movement that has claimed the kidnap of several British and US contractors in Iraq.

The public spat has seen Sadr accuse Asaib Ahel al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous which has emerged as more radical than his own movement, of seeking to tarnish his reputation, and the latter has refused to lay down its weapons.

Sadr's war of words with the group, made up of former followers, was sparked by a request from the League of the Righteous to bury two of its fighters in a cemetery reserved for Sadr loyalists in the southern city of Najaf on Tuesday.

When that request was denied, a firefight erupted, a Sadrist official told AFP, although there no casualties were reported in the shooting.

Shortly afterwards, each side published a statement slamming the other.

"The government must protect the cemetery from infiltrators," Sadr, who is currently in Iran studying Islamic theology, said in a statement published in Najaf.

He added, referring to the League of the Righteous: "Anyone who protects the corrupt who have been sentenced to death, who have killed Iraqis, I am not linked to him."

Meanwhile, the League posted on its website that the Sadrists were to send a committee to meet the group's leader Qais al-Khazaali to discuss the League laying down its weapons and joining the political process.

But League spokesman Muayad al-Khazraji rejected the proposal out of hand, saying it "refuses to give up our weapons as long as there is an occupation in the country," referring to the presence of nearly 50,000 US troops in Iraq.

Sadr responded on Friday, arguing in another statement, "Asaib Ahel al-Haq wants to bring me down in the eyes of my followers in the Iraqi community," seeking to portray him as no longer the leading opponent of the US troop presence.

"I will not accept anyone who has initiated sectarian strife, who has tried to tarnish my reputation, and who has killed Iraqis in cold blood, into the political process, however much they want to join," he added.

The League of the Righteous split from Sadr in 2004, and has since claimed it kidnapped British IT consultant Peter Moore and his four bodyguards in 2007.'

Iraqi Mojo said...

'Mr. Sadr, whose militia waged pitched battles against American forces not long after they ousted Saddam Hussein, has banned his followers from accepting jobs with foreign oil companies working in southern Iraq, his spokesman said Sunday.

Salah al-Obeidi, a Sadr spokesman, said the ban—issued Thursday on Mr. Sadr's website as a religious edict called a fatwa—could be lifted after verifying the "legitimacy" of a company's operations. The fatwa came in the form of a response to a question from a follower, asking if it was permissible to accept work from a private, British oil company offering jobs in the southern province of Missan.

Mr. Sadr responds: "In the name of the Almighty, presently not, this is prohibited."

It isn't clear whether any specific company was being singled out by the fatwa. Asim Jihad, spokesman for the Ministry of Oil declined to comment on the move. "The ministry does not get involved in the fatwas of clerics, and tries to stay away from these matters," he said.'

Mister Ghost said...

But Muhannad, you kept telling us how these Shia militias were good guys, LOL.

And I told you they were thugs and murderers, who enforced Sharia law on the populace, engaged in honor killings, etc.

One of the biggest mistakes the US did was not demolishing and destroying these Shia yahoo militias.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I was telling you they were good guys? Perhaps you can quote me. Or perhaps you cannot.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I posted this last summer:

'I have been surprised to see that even many of my religious relatives are now saying that religion must be separated from government. I see more Iraqis mocking Shia clerics who mix religion and politics. More Iraqi Shia I've met in London see Iran as the biggest problem for Iraq rather than Saudi Arabia and they see Ammar al Hakim as subservient to Iran. Muqtada al Sadr is a joke. Yesterday my father's friend called Sadr "majnoon" (crazy) and derided the clerics in the Iraqi government. More and more Iraqis are becoming tired of Iraqi politicians whose priority is religion instead of government. '

Iraqi Mojo said...

I found that by searching for "Sadr" in the search tool in the upper left corner of the blog. You can do the same thing, Mister Ghost.

Iraqi Mojo said...

Interesting that not all posts with the word "Sadr" are listed in that search. I had to search for "Sadr letter Saddam" to find this 2008 post:

"This is a 1999 letter from Muqtada al Sadr to Saddam Hussein. After Muqtada's brothers and father were murdered by Saddam's henchmen, Muqtada wrote a letter to Saddam, praising him and thanking him for his condolences! He also hoped that the same (murder) would not happen to Saddam's family. Probably Muqtada was afraid for his own life. It's interesting that 9 years ago Muqtada was so afraid of Saddam, the murderer of his father and brothers, and yet now he fights the Americans, the people who overthrew Saddam, and the new Iraqi government. "