Who is Moqtada Al Sadr?

Spencer Ackerman of the New Republic tells us that he’s an Orson Welles look-alike who is trying to usurp the position of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani by calling for and leading an uprising against the U.S. Sistani opposes the uprising both because he thinks it’s bad idea and because it’s Sadr’s deal. The stakes could hardly be higher, both for the two Shia leaders and for the U.S. With the U.S. now gunning for Sadr, Sistani seems to hold the better hand, but it depends on whether the Shia rank-and-file continue to accept his restained approach. Ackerman notes, for example, that “if Sadr is ‘martyred’ by the United States, Shia Iraqis may subsequently ask why their grand ayatollah didn’t challenge the U.S. as forcefully.” On the other hand, they may ask why, after the U.S. had liberated them from decades of oppression, an uprising was a better idea than getting on with building a new Iraq.


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