Moqtada al-Sadr is back, proving that he’s still a force in Iraqi politics

The Washington Post reports: Moqtada al-Sadr, the troublesome cleric whose militia repeatedly battled U.S. troops more than a decade ago, is back in action in Iraq — this time as a champion of political reforms.

And what a comeback it has been, replete with high political drama, bold gestures of choreographed symbolism and moments of nerve-racking tension that have seen Baghdad brace for a potential new war.

Sadr’s return to the limelight began in February, when he emerged from years of self-imposed retirement from politics to lead a mass protest campaign calling for the creation of a new government and an end to the corrupt practices of the country’s despised political elite.

On Thursday, after spending five days holed up in a tent inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone to press his demands, he was handed a victory, in the form of a proposed new government presented to parliament by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The new, streamlined cabinet is to be composed not of politicians but technocrats with the skills required to run ministries — meeting one of Sadr’s top demands. [Continue reading…]

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