Anti-US Cleric Pushes for New Iraqi Government

Al-Sadr meets with Maliki's main rival
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2010 11:24 AM CDT
Anti-US Cleric Pushes for New Iraqi Government
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, left, meets with Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq's most powerful Shiite political clerics, right, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, July 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

Muqtada al-Sadr took a rare step into Iraq’s political fray yesterday, meeting with Ayad Allawi in Syria to discuss the formation of a new Iraqi government. Allawi leads the Iraqiya coalition, one of two major factions vying for control of Iraq’s parliament. Sadr is nominally aligned with the other—Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law party—but wants Maliki out of the prime minister job.

By meeting with Allawi, Sadr is turning up the heat on Maliki, the New York Times explains. “I found a readiness from Iraqiya to make concessions,” Sadr said after the meeting, “and I call on State of Law to do the same.” If the radical cleric secures a large role in Iraq’s government, it would bode poorly for the US’s attempts to keep troops in the country. “I have a red line against the Americans,” Sadr said. (More Muqtada al-Sadr stories.)

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