The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
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 Entire ArchiveMuqtada al-Sadr Items

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Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist populist Shia cleric, has once again defied predictions as the coalition he leads outperformed rival parties in the parliamentary election on 12 May. His supporters successfully campaigned for social and political reform and against a corrupt and dysfunctional political establishment. It was the latest surprise in the career of a man... Read More
Figurehead’s surprise withdrawal from active role linked to parliamentary pensions vote
The surprise announcement by the influential Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr that he is withdrawing from active politics will only add to the political turmoil in Iraq at a moment when violence is in a state of sharp escalation. Mr Sadr’s unexpected statement comes two months before national parliamentary elections and was sparked by some... Read More
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Warning from Muqtada al-Sadr - the Shia cleric whose word is law to millions of his countrymen
In a rare interview at his headquarters in Najaf, he tells Patrick Cockburn of his fears for a nation growing ever more divided on sectarian lines. The future of Iraq as a united and independent country is endangered by sectarian Shia-Sunni hostility says Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia religious leader whose Mehdi Army militia fought the... Read More
Sadrism deeply divides the Iraqi Shia, many of whom see the movement as having a history of sectarian violence
Muqtada al-Sadr comes from a family of martyrs: his father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, was the leader of a Shia religious revival in the 1990s which became so threatening to Saddam Hussein that he had the cleric murdered, along with two of his sons. Muqtada’s father-in-law and cousin was Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, a revolutionary leader and... Read More
Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki hit Tehran this Monday. He was duly received by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and talked extensively to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, still beaming after his rock-star tour of Lebanon last week. Maliki visited the holy city of Qom, described Iran-Iraq relations as "strategic" and called for even deeper Iran-Iraq cooperation. A... Read More
WASHINGTON - The big bang is not that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's majority Shi'ite/Kurdish 37-member cabinet in Baghdad has approved the draft of a security pact with the George W Bush (and Barack Obama) administrations allowing the US military to stay in Iraq for three more years; it's that the 30-strong Sadrist bloc will move... Read More
I say this to the evil Bush - leave my country. We do not need you and your army of darkness. We don't need your planes and tanks. We don't need your policy and your interference. We don't want your democracy and fake freedom. Get out of our land. - Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shi'ite leader... Read More
"... the literature on counter-insurgency is so enormous that, had it been put aboard the Titanic, it would have sunk that ship without any help from the iceberg. However, the outstanding fact is that almost all of it has been written by the losers." - Martin van Creveld, in The Changing Face Of War, 2006... Read More
BAGHDAD - This was once the pinnacle of world culture. Al-Mustansariya University is older than the Sorbonne. During Saddam Hussein's time, even with United Nations sanctions, it was still churning out the best and the brightest in Iraq. Sons of wealthy families in Lebanon, Jordan, the Emirates and North Africa were still being sent by... Read More
BAGHDAD - Popular wisdom in Iraq rules that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, with a simple fatwa, or even a single word, could bring the US occupation to an abrupt end. So why doesn't he? In the impossibility to pose this half-trillion-dollar question to the grand ayatollah himself (he does not grant interviews to foreigners, and... Read More
BAGHDAD - This is the 24-square-kilometer theater where a great part of Iraq's future is already being played out; a vital element in US President George W Bush's surge; the place Pentagon generals dream of smashing into submission; one of the largest and arguably most notorious slums in the world: Sadr (formerly Saddam) City. Sadr... Read More
BAGHDAD - Muqtada al-Sadr is not at the conference on Iraq that opened on Thursday in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt, even though he is, hands down, the most popular, and certainly the most charismatic, political leader in Iraq, with his ears finely tuned to the Shi'ite - and even Sunni - street. Nasr al-Roubaie is the leader... Read More
DAMASCUS - There are three overlapping wars in Iraq: the Sunni Arab guerrilla struggle against the US; strands of Sunni Arab guerrillas against assorted Shi'ite militias/death squads; and al-Qaeda in Iraq against the puppet, US-backed Iraqi government in the Green Zone. Make it four wars: the Sunni Arab guerrilla war against the government inside the... Read More
Today's "zero point" returns Iraq to its own history, a history written with the ashes of incendiary fires, with its sons fleeing in all directions on the one hand, and its exiles returning to their own homes on the other. I truly do not know if distance today can be defined through the experiences of... Read More
"Security is a shared destiny. If we are secure, you might be secure, and if we are safe, you might be safe. And if we are struck and killed, you will definitely - with Allah's permission - be struck and killed." - Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the new al-Qaeda video The Correct Equation. US President George... Read More
"In reality, the electoral process was designed to legitimize the occupation, rather than ridding the country of the occupation ... Anyone who sees himself capable of bringing about political reform should go ahead and try, but my belief is that the occupiers won't allow him." - Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr As Shi'ites and Kurds fought... Read More
The ideal White House/Pentagon script for Iraq calls for a pro-American government, total control of at least 12% of the world's known oil reserves and 14 military bases to make it happen. Reality has been churning up other ideas. Whenever there is a so-called "transfer of power" in Mesopotamia, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, like clockwork,... Read More
Iraq now has 275 bright, beaming members of a new parliament. Flushed with victory, many are already shedding their virtual shells to meet their flesh-and-blood voters - thus running the risk of being obliterated by a suicide bombing or a drive-by shooting. Some parts of the world say this is an exercise in democracy. Other,... Read More
"Elections are the best way to expel the occupier from Iraq." - Banners in Shi'ite mosques in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala and Samarra "I anticipate a grand moment in Iraqi history." - US President George W Bush, January 26 Iraqi Shi'ites, the Pentagon, the Sunni Iraqi resistance, the rest of the world, even Henry Kissinger: everybody... Read More
The Iraqi elections won't happen on January 30 because the Bush administration wants them: they will happen because Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wants them. The Shi'ite leader knows it's now or never for the Shi'ite majority in the country to take power. The majority of Sunnis - because of the Fallujah offensive - won't vote:... Read More
"He Must be Killed or Captured" The "Rebel Cleric" and the Siege of Najaf
The siege of Najaf has two clearly defined objectives; disband the "al Mehdi" militia and restore the city to occupation control. The conflict is being heralded as the "first major test" of the new provisional government of US "appointee" Ayad Allawi. Most critics conclude that if the US military backs down now the credibility of... Read More
"I advise the dictatorial, agent government to resign ... Iraqi people demand the resignation of the government ... they [US] replaced Saddam with a government worse than him." - Muqtada al-Sadr, August 13 Imagine a Muslim army about to bomb the Vatican with the help of a few Christian mercenaries while the Pope is away,... Read More
What Was al-Sadr's Crime? The Trouble in Najaf
We all understand the basic principle involved in democratic government. The will of the people is articulated through the popular vote and the candidate who gets the most votes wins. Excluding America, (where the decisions are now entrusted to a Supreme Court) this is how representative government is established. By any objective standard, Muqtada al... Read More
Killing Muqtada al Sadr Legitimacy in Iraq
By using the distraction of Rumsfeld's testimony on Capital Hill to disguise continuing aggression, US Marines have stepped up their campaign to "capture or kill" Muqtada al-Sadr. Fighting has escalated in both Najaf and Kerbala with the goal of seizing control of the Holy cities and disbanding al Sadr's Mahdi Army. Al Sadr, who has... Read More
Is This What Liberation Looks Like?
The military cordon that has formed around Fallujah is the new face of the American invasion; the Jenin phase. The city is surrounded with razor wire, the curtains are drawn and the punishment has begun. All the reports indicate heavy fighting and, perhaps, as many as 200 Iraqis have been killed so far. (Many of... Read More
NAJAF, Iraq - Ammar Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, white-turbaned, with horn-rimmed glasses, is polished, soft-spoken, as he sits on a cushion in a secluded chamber to receive Asia Times Online at the Najaf office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Across the blinding-white compound where, under ultra-strict security, streams of clerics,... Read More
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