After upset Iraqi vote, US prepares to embrace a former foe

FILE - In this May 14, 2018, file photo, followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, seen in the poster, celebrate in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq. Fo

FILE - In this May 14, 2018, file photo, followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, seen in the poster, celebrate in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq. Fo

FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2016, file photo, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, speaks during his visit to the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate in Baghdad,

FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2016, file photo, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, speaks during his visit to the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate in Baghdad,

WASHINGTON (AP) — After an upset election in Iraq, the U.S. is preparing to work hand in hand with the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (mook-TAH'-duh ahl-SAH'-dur) and his movement. That's despite the fact that his militias fought and killed American troops who invaded Iraq 14 years ago.

Like many Iraqis, Washington was caught off guard when a coalition organized by al-Sadr took the largest share of the recent parliamentary vote. Although al-Sadr won't become prime minister, his movement will have an outsize role in building the next government.

Al-Sadr has evolved over the years and now portrays himself as a populist corruption-fighter. U.S. officials involved in Iraq policy say the Trump administration is cautiously optimistic he can herald the formation of a broad-based government that tolerates a continuing American presence and curtails Iran's influence.