A battered nation, tagged as one of the most volatile countries in the world is not new to war – violence – antagonism – failure or divisive power blocs and has been desperately beseeching a much peaceful countenance even though a ‘façade’, which seems to having being eluding the nation for long. Amidst all this gloom in October, 2016, a meeting between Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shiite cleric, and several other major Shiite military leaders in the nation yielding atypical statements of unity is a distant light of a hopeful balance at least. Though this bringing together of the Shiite leaders is for the upcoming 2017 elections, and with each participant uniting and supporting the cause for its own ulterior motive is still a better scenario for the beleaguered country.
Shiite rivalries within the country have too been a matter of concern with the already fractioned country growing further apart. But this unusual reunion has caused the Iraqi’s and the world thinking as to how long will this union prosper and to what outcome. The ambiguity lies mostly because of the prominent leader Al-Sadr being a part of the ‘united we stand together’ stance, as has been a divisive figure throughout drastically turning from a rabid warlord to his new avatar of an Iraqi Gandhi. Sadr has vehemently opposed apart from other things foreign – foreign occupation in the region and foreign military influences which finds its supporters among the crowds of the country and surprisingly has other Shiite leaders resonating to similar tunes, bringing the leaders closer on grounds of such issues. Even if they are not at par with each other on levels within, the Shiite rival factions need to present themselves as a much more cohesive unit to make gains from the sceptical voters of Iraq, who are tired of the increasing corruption and blatant politics in the nation.
This is exactly what the October meeting of the Shiite leaders aim to do with its extravagant demonstrations of harmony and camaraderie at the press conference held soon after the meeting. At Al-Sadr’s the press conference saw the likes of other prominent Shiite leaders from – Popular Mobilization Forces – Hadi al-Amiri from Iran backed Badr organisation – Qais al-Khazali, commander of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, all singing praises about each other and their new found understanding, stating it to be at “its highest level”. Such demonstrative show of emotions hint towards both a strong political pragmatism of the leaders also of a greater and a grander plan.
However, Al-Sadr’s stance against any foreign occupation or aid from Turkey has been constantly questioned with the cleric accepting military aid from Iran, where he did his clerical studies when required, is highly problematic. What is worse that Iran can very quietly increase its influence in the region with Al-Sadr given his massive following and influence. To make matters worse in the held press conference all leaders together again presented a chorus decrying any sort of foreign occupation and abiding by Baghdad’s leadership on the matter, with no opposition to Al-Sadr’s double-dealing. However, for the new found unity among these Shiite leaders it’s still a long-long journey to cover before reaching a solid unbreakable ground.
As lay dormant among them lingering enmities which are to erupt soon destroying the façade created, of all the one most apparent being the one between the former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki – an ally of many of the Shiite leaders and Al-Sadr. Both have on occasions condemned each other. Al-Sadr on many occasions has called the former Prime Minister corrupt but his present moves to secure ministerial posts prove him no better. However, for now it seems they are all ‘united’ as ‘one’ and are working together for the municipal election nearby , at least ending the war between one faction among many in the beleaguered nation.
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