Iraq: Sadr's Followers Begin Sit-In in Parliament

Photo: Reuters [via The Guardian]

The Facts

  • Supporters of Iraqi cleric and politician Moqtada al-Sadr erected tents and prepared for an open-ended sit-in at Iraq's parliament on Sun., a move that could prolong a political deadlock already plaguing the nation.

  • Wed. had seen protestors use ropes and chains to topple concrete walls around the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, then flood into parliament after confronting security forces.

The Spin

Narrative A

Despite Sadr's position against the West, he may be an unlikely asset to US interests, primarily due to his opposition to Iran. The future of the Sadrist movement depends on preventing Iran-aligned militias from expanding their influence within the state, and the West should make sure it at least tacitly accepts Sadr. As the expression goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Narrative B

Sadr, who is known for stirring the pot in Iraqi politics, is pushing the country to the edge. Though popular with many in the Shi'a community, his unruly supporters coupled with his fierce rhetoric could plunge Iraq into civil strife.

Cynical narrative

Sadr has already lost to Iran, and antics like this aren't going to change that. The firebrand cleric did quite well in last year's elections, but his inability to form a government has led to a significant loss of ground to Iranian-backed groups.

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