Al-Hayat reports in Arabic on the emergence of the Sadr Movement as the largest Shiite party within the Shiite fundamentalist coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance. The Free Independent (al-Ahrar) party that represented the Sadrists won 38 seats out of the 70 that the INA garnered, making the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Islamic Virtue Party and other Shiite religious components of the list much smaller and less weighty in the coalition’s deliberations.
No sooner, the article says, than the election tallies began coming in did the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki begin gradually releasing Sadrist prisoners who had been in Iraqi penitentiaries for years. Al-Hayat’s sources say that in Babil Province, orders were received from the government to release members of the Sadr Movement, in an attempt to mollify that group.
Sadrist leader Liqa’ Al-Yasin said that the Sadrists have now become the spinal column of the Iraqi National Alliance. He said that the movement had demonstrated that it had a large public base, and asserted that that base is cultured, aware, and abiding by the principles both of Islamic Law and the Nation. Al-Yasin said that the Sadrists would work for the liberation of Iraq and the realization of national sovereignty. [Translation: they want US troops out of their country tout de suite.] He adds that other goals are to gain the release of prisoners and to take some of the burdens off the shoulders of ordinary citizens. Sadrist leaders said that “the next phase will concentrate on political action to end the Occupation altogether.”
Another Sadrist leader said that the movement has foresworn violence and that they would not take up arms again save in situation of dire necessity.
al-Hayat is also reporting that a couple of days ago representatives of the Sadr Movement and of al-Maliki’s State of Law met in Tehran in an Iranian-backed attempt quickly to form a new Shiite-dominated government. In Iran for the talks were President Jalal Talibani and his Shiite vice president, Adil Abdel Mahdi of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
This move underlines the way in which Iraq’s election has geopolitical as well as local significance. Also that Iran is sitting pretty while the US prepares to withdraw.
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