Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Shiite Sadrists make resurgence in Iraq election

Muqtada al-Sadr holds a referendum to decide whom to be Iraq's next prime minister

Shiite Sadrists make resurgence in Iraq election

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose power once seemed all but crushed, has made a remarkable political resurgence in Iraq's parliamentary elections. The Iran-based Shiite leader is now poised to play a key role in choosing Iraq's next prime minister.
He may use his newfound clout to push his archenemy, Nouri al-Maliki, from power.
Sadrist support is crucial for al-Maliki as he tries to assemble enough Shiite backing to remain prime minister. But the young cleric is holding a referendum among his supporters yesterday and today to decide whom to support for the post. The move is widely viewed as a way to give himself the opportunity to back someone other than al-Maliki, under the guise of following the people's will.
It's a piquant bit of political revenge for al-Sadr and his supporters, who have hated al-Maliki since he crushed al-Sadr's powerful militia in 2008. The Mahdi Army, as the force is called, once led bloody uprisings against American forces and were blamed by Sunnis for some of the worst sectarian violence in 2006-2007.
The Sadrists' main condition for joining a Shiite alliance "is that al-Maliki give up his nomination as prime minister," said Kazim al-Muqdadi, a political analyst at Baghdad University. Or in return for his staying, they might demand such important posts as the interior or defense ministries - "demands al-Maliki might not accept."
Whoever al-Sadr ends up backing, the election success shows the 36-year-old cleric will likely be an important powerbroker shaping Iraq as U.S. forces withdraw by the end of 2011.
Al-Sadr's followers won at least 39 seats in the 325-seat parliament in the March 7 vote, up 10 seats from their current standing. That makes them the largest bloc within the Iraqi National Alliance, a Shiite religious coalition that placed third in the race.
Neighboring Iran is widely believed to want a Shiite alliance to form the government, like the previous one. Negotiators from al-Maliki's State of Law bloc and the INA were in Iran this week. But the talks failed to produce little more than allegations of interference by Iran into Iraq's political process.
So far al-Maliki's efforts to court the INA have been rebuffed, largely due to the Sadrists.
Al-Maliki needs allies. His Shiite-dominated State of Law slate received 89 seats, compared to 91 seats for the Iraqiya list led by secular challenger Ayad Allawi, a Shiite who drew on Sunni support and is now leading his own negotiations to form a government.
The enmity between the Sadrists and al-Maliki is deep-rooted.


Updated : 2021-04-20 23:47 GMT+08:00