Mustafa Habib writes: He ended his ten year-long political campaign in a televised speech lasting around 11 minutes. In that speech Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said a number of disturbing things: that current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a dictator, that Iraq’s Parliament is paralyzed and that the country’s judiciary is too politicized.
But perhaps the most disturbing things were the questions left unanswered. And there were many.
Al-Sadr was born in 1973, the child of a well known and well respected Shiite Muslim family, based in Najaf. As the Middle East Quarterly reported back in 2004, he is “the fourth son of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who was, between 1992 and 1999, one of the most renowned leaders in the Hawza, the centre of Shiite religious seminaries and scholarship”. Muqtada’s father “cultivated good relations with the predominantly Shiite tribes of central and southern Iraq, even publishing a book on tribal Islamic jurisprudence,” the journal wrote.
The Sadr family were persecuted during the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and after the death of his father and two brothers at, most likely, the hands of government assassins, Muqtada assumed a leadership role in the family – and therefore with their many followers.
And after many years of guiding those followers – in both bad, violent times that saw them take military action against the US as well as in calmer times, when he disarmed the Sadrist militia – it appears that al-Sadr is now ready to stand down.
“I will not interfere in political affairs,” al-Sadr said in his statement of resignation on Saturday. “There is no political entity that represents me anymore nor any position in parliament or government.”
In order to clarify his decision, al-Sadr then made a televised speech on Tuesday in which he said his decision was irreversible. [Continue reading…]