Iraq Elections Revive Anti-US Sadr Party

Followers of radical cleric poised to challenge Maliki
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2010 8:20 AM CDT
Iraq Elections Revive Anti-US Sadr Party
Radical Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, speaks in a news conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, March 6, 2010.   (AP Photo/Fars News Agency, Hamed Malekpour)

As Iraq sorts out the messy results of last week's elections, an unexpected winner is coming to light: The populist party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, long since given up for dead, suddenly emerged as the second largest Shiite block, and its strong performance is sure to shake up the country's balance of power. Winning more than 40 seats positions them to be a potent challenge to Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki.

The resurgence of the Sadrists reflects a larger trend in Iraqi politics: plummeting support for parties who collaborated with the US after the 2003 invasion. The Sadrists refuse any diplomatic or military contact with the US, and Americans aren't the only ones displeased by their political resurrection. An ally of Maliki called them "alarming," and Iran too is wary: The unpredictable al-Sadr is "not the easiest of customers for Iran to deal with," a diplomat tells the New York Times.
(Read more Muqtada al-Sadr stories.)

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