May 3, 2017

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Moqtada al-Sadr: In Iraq, a fiery cleric redefines himself as nationalist patriot (Jane Arraf, MAY 3, 2017, CS Monitor)

[T]he still relatively young cleric, the son and the son-in-law of two Shiite clerics revered for their concern for the poor, has increasingly made an effort to portray himself as an Iraqi patriot. Now, he is poised to consolidate his position not only as an influential political kingmaker but as someone who can mobilize potentially millions of followers from Baghdad to the southern coastal city of Basra.  

In April, he even broke with other Iraqi Shiite leaders in calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Iran, to step down to save the country from more bloodshed. 

"He really is someone who has provided a social and political outlet for the impoverished, particularly for those southerners who have never had a chance to have their say in middle-class and upper-class politics, which defines much of what goes on in Baghdad," says Ahab Bdaiwi, a specialist in Islamic history at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Posted by at May 3, 2017 4:51 PM

  

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