Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Muqtada’s Northern Strategy

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 3 September 2008 0:00

In a message attributed to him and published in Kufa on 29 August (but as of yet unconfirmed at many key Sadrist websites) Muqtada al-Sadr supposedly stressed the importance of ejecting the Kurdish peshmerga from Khanaqin so that they can be replaced by Iraqi government forces.

If correct, this would serve as another reminder of Muqtada’s intentions to play the Iraqi nationalist card in the north, which he has done previously as well, with major Sadrist demonstrations against federalism in Kirkuk back in 2004. At the same time, Sadr’s insistence on consistency touches on cracks in the alliance between ISCI and Kurds that forms the backbone of the Maliki government: “You were the first to insist on imposing the law in the governorates of the centre and the south of Iraq, so why reject this idea in Khanaqin” Sadr asks. Perhaps tongue in cheek, but still an interesting contrast to 2003 when Sadr at one point contemplated the formation of a “shadow cabinet” to challenge what he described as illegitimate government structures sponsored by the United States.

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