An influential anti-American Shiite leader of Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr, reaffirmed in a speech in Najaf some days ago about his withdrawing from Iraqi politics. He also left his followers to decide whether to continue serving in parliament or not but he made it clear that they are not on his behalf anymore in parliament.
This speech spread disappointment in his supporters who hoped that his retirement announcements through his website, was a tactical move that he would soon reverse, as he had did it before also. But it should be accepted with good prospective by his supporters and by all other religious as well as political leaders, as his country would receive benefits from this gape between religion and politics.
Mr. Sadr, a 40 year old religious cleric encouraged all Iraqis to participate in elections so they be represented fairly. He condemned Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki send his government, saying he is behaving like a dictator and using the army against the people.
In his words, Iraq is under a dark cloud, full of bloodshed due to wars and killing of each other under the name and religion and it laws. He also added that the country is having no life, no agriculture, no industry, no services, no security and no peace and going on the path of destruction.
Maliki government came to power promised to improve Iraq's Shiite community which is a majority in the country, but it was suffering under the very long dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. According to him this government officials who are belonging to this Shiite community turned out as a group of wolves who are hungry for power and money, which are also backed by the Western and the Eastern powers. In all these circumstances policies of this regime became a door for injustice and carelessness for the country.
Mr. Sadr is known for his Sadrist Movement under which he played a very important role during the war and after the war with America from 2003 to some last years. His party is having 40 members, the Ahrar bloc, out of 325-membered Parliament. His message to these lawmakers was that they can continue their work, but not under his name. In this he also added a quote saying "If you are good Politician" which referring them to be nationalist leaders. He stated through his website that no one should claim to speak for the party any more.
In the sectarian unrest after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and coup of Saddam Hussain, Sadr formed a Shiite militia group named Mahdi Army. It fought against both the American forces and Iraqi Sunnis. He also built a political movement modeled on the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah which fused populism, Shiite faith and military strength to amass political power. In the national elections of 2010, he emerged as a major part, giving his support to Mr. Maliki but this was on Iran's urge. Since then the both have a lot of difference and been more rivals than allies.
Indeed his withdrawal is the first modern, unique step from a religious leader to put religion away from politics but I got very low acceptance from is followers. He provided chances for new politicians to step up and go beyond the religious extremism in politics. At this moment it is possible that it not be good for the Shiite alliance as it may get weakened after this leave of charismatic Mr. Sadr from the arena. His party have a very powerful stronghold in Najaf province of Iraq which was recently taken over by terrorist militants.
This withdrawal will create a very big effect on this upcoming elections. He is one of the prominent coin of the Iraqi political process. The most shocking thing about this was his timing of resignation from this political process as it very near to the elections. It is maybe reasoned by his desperations and disappointments from the political scenario as he can not deny Iranian recommendations of providing support to the Maliki's government and he also can not sustain his support to such useless government in his mentality.
By coming out of politics totally like this left his supporters confuse. They are confused to whom they should vote for? They call this current government as thieves and criminals but they also don't have any wide range of options. They are aware that they are not going to bring any Sunni party or group to become the nation's supreme. They have suffered from this in the reign of Saddam who made their lives very miserable.
Iraq is already under very massacring violence and bloodsheds that have increasingly plagued its public in recent months starting from coup of Saddam. On an average everyday car bombings take place in the country, Bagdad and Hilla are major centers. All these attacks attributed to Qaeda militants, Sunni and Shiite militant groups. Reports says that more then half million people lost their lives since fall down of Saddam to this date.
All these killings and bombings show lack of abilities of Prime Minister Maliki. Who often defended the his efforts in some essay published on the website of the American journal Foreign Policy. According to him he is doing well and he will probably defeat Qaeda and other extremist powers with is so called "Holistic Strategies".
These factors provide a very static importance to Mr. Sardr's withdrawal. His more time with religious activities will either increase or decrease such attacking. His this step is very gentle move but his followers, his territory and his party demand his guidance to perform best in upcoming elections. He can not rub his importance in Iraqi politics this easily. It will be better for all if he maintain a bit connections to all his influences at least in this elections. It will be a far good thing to give an beginning to the end of his political career, and an end to the beginning of his fully committed religious roles.
About Author / Additional Info:
Writer is a growing young political analyst of Middle Eastern and Islamist Politics worked for major think tanks and HRW.