Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sadr's Movement Evolving

The movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has embarked on one of its most dramatic tactical shifts since the beginning of the war.

The 33-year-old populist is reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders, from politicians to insurgents, and purging extremist members of his Mahdi Army militia who target Sunnis. Sadr's political followers are distancing themselves from the fragile Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is widely criticized as corrupt, inefficient and biased in favor of Iraq's majority Shiites. And moderates are taking up key roles in Sadr's movement, professing to be less anti-American and more nationalist as they seek to improve Sadr's image and position him in the middle of Iraq's ideological spectrum.

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Nir Rosen argued years back that Sadr was the only Shia the Sunnis could trust. Even with all the cleansing, death squads. Strangely he might be the only one to keep the country (minus the Kurds) together.

Apparently though Sadr has sent Mahdi Army to Kirkuk to fight the Kurds if they try to secede and take the city. Sadr could easily over play his hand there.

Like Nasrallah, Sadr knows the pulse of the street better than government heads (Sinora, Maliki) looked away in Green Zones and Beirut bunkers.

tags technorati :
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