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Muqtada Al-Sadr has had a less than conventional journey into politics

15 6 11

Iraqi populist leader Muqtada Al-Sadr’s climb to fame has eclipsed the predictions of his inevitable demise heard over the past decade. Once described as an afterthought in the celebrated Sadr family’s long line of revered scholars, his rise is as much a surprise today as it was in 2003 in the context of America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

At the time that US and multinational troops started to occupy strategic areas across the country, Muqtada Al-Sadr, despite his tender age, evolved quickly into an unpopular and troublesome figure that neither America nor the government it appointed could tame. The resistance that he led against US forces went unpunished for incidents that resulted in the deaths of American and British military personnel. Jaysh Al-Mahdi, the militia he raised to fight the occupation, lives on, albeit splintered into smaller paramilitary clusters, one of which — Saraya Al-Salam (the Peace Brigade) — is commanded directly by Sadr today.

The backing that he received from male citizens without jobs and other resistance factions to a lesser extent, was related less to what Sadr represented and more about ordinary citizens and their desire to fight invading troops. To them must be added others concerned with honouring the sacrifices by Sadr’s father and father-in-law, Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr and Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr, both of whom were executed by the Saddam Hussein regime. This much was recognised by the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research in a report published in July 2004: “Even if Sadr fails in his bid for a substantial political role, the Sadr........

© Middle East Monitor