From AP: Analysis: Iraq Crisis Propells al-Sadr.
The bombing and bloodshed that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war have propelled anti-American firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr to the forefront of Iraqi politics. The young Shiite cleric who twice defied America in 2004 now has emerged as a major threat to U.S. plans for Iraq.
Al-Sadr had already managed to carve out a strong position in Iraqi politics. His followers won 30 of the 275 parliament seats in the December elections, and his support enabled Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to win the nomination of the Shiite bloc for a second term as prime minister.
But the outbreak of Shiite-Sunni violence presented al-Sadr with an opportunity that he was quick the exploit. An increase in al-Sadr's stature is an ominous development for the United States given his opposition to U.S. influence, his links to radical groups and regimes in the Middle East and his militia that undermines state authority. ...
Just as important, al-Sadr's vision for Iraq is markedly different from that of the United States or the Westernized politicians such as ex-Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that the United States has tacitly supported.
Areas under the control of al-Sadr's militia provide insights into what an Iraq run by the Sadrists may look like. In Basra, al-Sadr's militiamen have reportedly bombed stores suspected of selling liquor or permissive entertainment material, according to residents.
They routinely berate women whose appearance they deem immodest.
More alarming are al-Sadr's links to some of the most radical elements in the Middle East, including the clerical regime in Iran and the hardline government in Syria, both of whom welcomed on visits this month.
On his visit to Syria, al-Sadr praised Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections.
"I hope it is the beginning of an Islamic awakening and that it will be the start ... of Islam's triumph in other Islamic countries," he said.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
UPDATE -- March 2: Zeyad at Healing Iraq notes that the television network Al-Iraqiya is now referring to al-Sadr as 'His Eminence, Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr, may Allah preserve his glory,'.
Posted by Forkum at February 27, 2006 08:05 PM