'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.'