January 8, 2011

BUT?:

What does al Sadr's return mean for Iraq? (Mohamad Bazzi, Jan 7, 2011, The National)

Muqtada al Sadr, one of the most popular Shiite clerics and an unrelenting rival of the United States in Iraq, has returned to his home in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf after three years of self-imposed exile in Iran. The cleric's surprise homecoming is a victory lap after he played a role as kingmaker in ending months of political paralysis and securing a second term for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al al Maliki. [...]

Now, Mr al Sadr has returned home to play a central part in Iraqi politics and to oversee his movement's transition from a militia force to a powerful political group with 40 seats in Parliament. But his ascendance threatens to stoke sectarian tensions in Iraq: his followers were responsible for some of the worst atrocities against Sunnis during the country's recent civil war. Mr al Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, unleashed death squads that assassinated Sunnis and drove them out of Shiite neighbourhoods.


That was the necessary pre-condition for a successful surge and the threat of renewed reprisals is what keeps the Sunni in line.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2011 6:34 AM
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