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Who Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?

March 25th, 2008 . by TexasFred

BAGHDAD (AP) - The followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have stepped up battles and protests against recent raids and detentions against his Mahdi Army militia.

Q: Who is al-Sadr?

A: The anti-American Shiite cleric, in his early 30s, is the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, one of the most powerful Shiite clerics in Iraq in the 1990s. The younger al-Sadr fiercely opposes the U.S. presence in Iraq and launched two major uprisings against American-led forces in 2004. He ordered his fighters to stand down in August, but the cease-fire has been severely strained.

Q: What is the Mahdi Army?

A: Al-Sadr founded the militia soon after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. It has grown into one of the most powerful armed groups in Iraq by offering both protection and social welfare services to impoverished Shiites. The Mahdi Army became known for execution-style killings and kidnappings in tit-for-tat sectarian violence provoked by the February 2006 bombing of an important Shiite mosque in Samarra. The cease-fire has reduced those attacks and roadside bombings against U.S. troops.

Q: Why are the Sadrists angry?

A: Al-Sadr’s followers claim the Americans and their Iraqi allies have taken advantage of the cease-fire to arrest hundreds of al-Sadr’s followers. They also complain that only a small percentage of the detainees being released under a new amnesty law have been from al-Sadr’s movement. The Sadrists blame all this on their main Shiite rival, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. That rivalry is intensifying in the run-up to provincial elections expected this fall.

Q: What are their demands?

A: The Sadrists want U.S. and Iraqi troops to stop the raids, release their followers from detention and apologize for unspecified violations against dignitaries, Shiite clans and women.

Q: What is Iran’s role?

A: The U.S. military is careful not to criticize al-Sadr, but says Iran is training breakaway cells it calls “special groups,” arming them with rockets and deadly armor-piercing roadside bombs. Iran denies the allegations. Last year al-Sadr fled to Iran, fearing arrest after a U.S.-led security crackdown. His current whereabouts are kept secret.

Q: Why is al-Sadr’s cease-fire so important?

A: The collapse of the cease-fire would threaten to unleash the Mahdi Army and unravel many of the security gains achieved in recent months by U.S. and Iraqi forces. It also could lead to an upsurge in attacks against U.S. forces, who have been concentrating on fighting al-Qaida in Iraq. Clashes also could escalate in the oil-rich Shiite heartland south of the capital if rival militia factions are allowed to operate without restraint.

Q: What is the United States doing in the current crisis?

A: The United States has welcomed al-Sadr’s cease-fire but insist on the right to target those who violate it. The U.S. military often lets the Iraqi troops take the lead in raids against Mahdi Army factions. That has further angered the Sadrists since their rival Badr Brigade dominates Iraqi security forces.

Who Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?

One of the better assessments of al-Sadr and the ramifications that his continued existence can bring to Iraq and the region, especially when you consider the source of the story.

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2 Responses to “Who Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?”

  1. comment number 1 by: GUYK

    The USA had a price on the sumbitches’ head and could have got him back before the elections but figured they needed him to establish that joke of a Iraqi ‘guvmit’ should have put a crusie missile through his window when they could have…keep in mind that he ran to Iran for a while and is an ally with the Shiite Mullahs in Iran. best bet now is to kill the ragheaded bastard and tell god he died

  2. comment number 2 by: Patrick Sperry

    We should have, would have, and now we have to kill this usless piece of swine dung.