Friday, February 20, 2009

A possibly ominous force emerging in Iraq's Shiite politics

Although he disbanded his Mahdi Army militia months ago and has been seen as a declining force in Iraqi politics, Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters did reasonably - perhaps surprisingly - well in the recent provincial elections, and are now being cultivated as coalition partners by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and his al-Dawa party. But the Sadrist movement itself is now fragmenting, with an assertive, more militant minority element preparing for the parliamentary elections slated for the end of 2009. The sources cited here indicate that this new movement has links to Iran - which Iran denies.

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