Arrest Warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr?
The Guardian reports today that sources close to the Interim Governing Council say an arrest warrant is being prepared for fiery young Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. They say his organizing activities have come to be seen as a growing threat, and he will be charged in the murder of Majid al-Khoei on April 10, based on interviews with over 20 men apprehended in the wake of that incident.
Muqtada’s organizing of a private militia and his plans for a shadow government are a threat to stability in Iraq. It seems to me, however, that it would be very difficult to prove that he ordered al-Khoei killed, given the chaos after April 9. There is a danger that this arrest is prompted by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is a rival to Muqtada’s organization and which has a seat on the Interim Govering Council.
In my view, it probably would have been better incrementally to coopt Sadrist neighborhoods, using carrots rather than a stick. Arresting Muqtada makes him a martyr, and will ensure regular demonstrations against the US by his cadres. It may cut his network down to size; but it may also galvanize it to expand.