Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for September 29th, 2010

Muqtada al-Sadr Preparing His Supporters for the Dirty Game of Politics

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 13:14

In an interesting official statement published by the Sadrists, Muqtada al-Sadr tackles the question of a second Maliki premiership head on. The document simulates the format of a “request for a fatwa” and the questioner asks how a second Maliki premiership can be acceptable given the highhandedness of the Maliki government against Sadrists in numerous locations across Iraq (Karbala and Nasiriyya are highlighted).

Sadr’s reply is interesting: He alludes to the “give and take” of politics and cites his father (as he always does in these quasi-fatwas) to the effect that politics is a heartless game. He then goes on to order his followers to support whatever position is taken by the Sadrist politburo!

This could, in other words, be another indication that the Sadrists are preparing to switch allegiance to Maliki, this time probably with Iranian support in order to achieve their basic aim of having a (mostly) unified Shiite front in the government-formation process. It is interesting that the normally pro-Iranian Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) have gone quite far out on a limb in an attempt at challenging Maliki. Today, Iraqi media are full of rumours about a reported visit by Sadr himself to Syria, ostensibly to talk to Iraqiyya; so far however only a meeting between the Syrian president and the Iraqiyya leadership is reported. A more realistic scenario would probably have been Sadr talking to ISCI and others in the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) half of the putative all-Shiite National Alliance (NA) that remain sceptical towards Maliki (Sabah al-Saadi of Fadila indicated such scepticism today), but so far nothing of the kind has materialised. In that case, the interesting question is how big the INA defection from the NA will be if Maliki after all emerges as their premier candidate.

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