Antichrist who fought US offers himself as saviour in elections

An election poster of Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, northern Baghdad
An election poster of Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, northern BaghdadAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/GETTY

Iraq’s cleric who fought US offers himself as saviour in elections

As the nation votes today, the leader once described as his country’s most dangerous man may be the least bad option

In his office in Baghdad’s Green Zone, the politician Sadiq al-Sulaiti perched on a velvet sofa with crystal-studded cushions and expounded on his favourite subject: how his leader, the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was going to save Iraq from corruption, lawlessness and instability.

When the American-led coalition invaded 18 years ago, Sulaiti was a dedicated supporter of the “resistance”, led by Sadr, which fought against the occupiers and later engaged in sectarian warfare that left thousands dead. Since then Iraqis have experienced periods of stability as well as enduring years of internal conflict, including war against the Islamic State group, which controlled a third of the country at one point.

Now, as the Americans, who dominated the country from the Green Zone, prepare to withdraw

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