How ironic it is, the recent history of Moqtada Al-Sadr of Iraq. Once vilified by Rumsfeld and the US Administrationin. He has since become a force in Iraqi politics.
He arranged a demonstration in Baghdad supporting a petition signed by 1 million Iraqis (Sunni and Shia) calling for the immediate withdrawal of Coalition forces.
And, according to Raed in the Middle, in the December 15 elections he was a major participant in the political process, garnering as many seats for his own supporters as both the entire Sunni “lists” and the United Kurdish list.
The secret to his success, according to Raed, has been his appeal to both Sunni and Shia factions of Iraqi society.
As-Sadr took a big part in the last Iraqi elections. He agreed to join the 555 coalition, which is the main and only religious Shia coalition, after the ruling Shia parties gave him alone half of the total number of the coalition’s seats.
As-Sadr is very popular and well respected among the Sunni Iraqis communities and political parties too, especially when it comes to his politics concerning the occupation.
Surprisingly enough, and after three years of the fall of Baghdad, the only person with a significant popularity among different ethnic groups is some young, poor, and low educated man like Muqtada As-Sadr. He’s turned into a national political icon in the last few years, and may be a potential national leader in the future.
So now, this man who’s supporters were once referred to as a “terrorist band of brothers“, is one of the most powerful men in Iraq. A slight miscalculation on the part of the US military I think… but then, apparently that shouldn’t surprise us at least according to a British Brigadier General recently back from Iraq.
Al Sadr has become so powerful, in fact, that he recently sat down with the King of Saudi Arabia (who is Sunni)… why? Well, Raed’s thought goes as follows
the Sadr movement was collecting some thousands of signatures around the country in a campaign that aims to ask the Saudi Authorities to allow Shia to rebuild some Shia Shrines that were destroyed by Sunni fundamentalists a couple of centuries ago.
So I would say that this was one of the hot issues during the meeting, in addition to other issues concerning Shia-Sunni and Iraqi-Arab reconciliation.
Shia-Sunni and Iraqi reconciliation?
Could the up-and-coming Shia leader Al-Sadr possibly become a force for reconciliation between the two disparate sects of Islam? We can only hope.. one thing is for sure though, Al-Sadr has shown himself to be a very smart, very opportunistic individual, only time will tell whether he uses those abilities for his own gain or the Greater Good.