Friday, May 25, 2007

al Sadr Reemerges

After four months in hiding, Shi’ite cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr resurfaced on Friday to lead his followers in worship after traveling in a motorcade from Najaf to Kufa.

His defiance was telegraphed by his choice of attire – he addressed his followers wearing a funeral shroud – a clear indication that he is willing to be martyred for his cause and his country.

He fired up his supporters with chants of "No, no to evil! No, no to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to Satan! No, no to colonialism!" and his congregation shouted the slogans with him.

He also implored his Mahdi Army to refrain from attacking American forces, because attacking Americans plays into the hands of the occupiers. He also renewed his call for an end to the occupation, and cited the petition that was signed by a majority of the Iraqi parliament on May 10 calling for a date certain that the occupation would end.

His return to the public discourse comes at a critical time in the history of Iraq. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, al Sadr’s chief rival is ill, undergoing chemotherapy in Iran. It was al Hakim who visited the White House last December to appeal for a continued American occupation. Now, six months later, the al Maliki government is on the verge of collapse, and the jockeying for position inside Iraq is starting.

That is how I am inclined to see it, anyway. I believe that he has reemerged now to solidify his support as an element of a larger gambit to have a Sadrist government replace the tottering al Maliki government when it teeters off the cliff.

I have no doubt that a lot of the nuance that emanated in waves off the clerics return to public life was lost on many, if not most westerners, and that is telling and tragic – because I am inclined to believe that the nuanced meanings were the truly significant ones.

Supporting links:

Washington Post

Informed Comment

Washington Post

No comments: