Antichrist considers a shrewd choice for prime minister

Mohammad Jaafar al-Sadr. Photo: Jaafar al-Sadr/Twitter

Sadr considers a shrewd choice for prime minister

Farhad Alaaldin

Mohammad Jaafar al-Sadr. Photo: Jaafar al-Sadr/Twitter

As political stalemate continues in Baghdad, rumours are swirling around the leader of the Sadrist movement’s nomination for prime minister. In recent days, Muqtada al-Sadr has made rounds of phone calls to Iraqi leaders, including his arch-rival Nouri al-Maliki, to discuss his choice of potential candidate. Sources suggest he is keen to nominate his cousin for the post: Iraq’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mohammad Jaafar al-Sadr (MJS).

Little is known about him, but MJS is the son of the revered Shiite leader Sayeed Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, the founder of the Islamic Dawa Party, and movements such as the Sadrists and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, who follow his ideals.

MJS worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for some time, and was elected as a member of parliament in 2010 with the State of Law, led by Maliki, whereupon he resigned a few months later.

In a rare interview published in Elaph in 2010, MJS discussed his ideals and shared his hopes for Iraq and its future.

Despite his religious upbringing – being the son of Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, and mentored by Mohammad Mohammad Sadiq al-Sadr – MJS said he doesn’t believe in a religious state, but in a “civil state, which is the formula closest to the British and German model of dealing between state and beliefs,” he said.

He has lived and studied in Iran, yet doesn’t believe in “Wilayat al-faqih” as a form of ruling. “The experience of living in Iran was a catalyst for liberation from a number of perceptions and ideas that were closer to ideology than the objective perception of the movement of society and its contradictions,” he explained.

On Iraq’s relation with its neighbours, MJS expressed a direct view. “Iraq, with its Arab depth and history, requires keenness to establish distinguished relations with its Arab neighbours, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, because I believe that the depth of Iraq is its Arab world and its integration can only take place with its own countries to build a regional system that begins with the Arabs and integrates with other countries such as Iran and Turkey.”

His views on the American invasion and occupation are vividly clear. He rejected the occupation, yet called for a balanced relationship with the United States, saying he would “be keen to establish distinguished relations with the United States, whether in the economic, scientific or cultural fields.” Furthermore, “It is possible to envision other forms of assistance to the Iraqis that are more beneficial, not only to them but also to America and its reputation in the region and the world.”

MJS expressed a clear picture of Iraq’s state of affairs in 2010, talking about lack of services, the decline in education, rampant corruption, muhasasa, extreme poverty, unemployment that devours the youth, the politicisation of state institutions, etc…

About his relationship with the Sadrist leader, he commented, “I have a lot of respect for him for his brave, patriotic stances, especially with regard to foreign presence as well as his stances calling for openness to other components.”

It may be a shrewd move for the influential Shiite cleric to nominate MJS. He is one of the family, and it would be almost impossible for the Coordination Framework to object to his nomination.

It remains to be seen if the political process will get out of the stalemate, however.

Sadr still refuses consensus and believes that he must form a national majority government. The Coordination Framework might not reject MJS. However, they might still boycott the session to elect the president, which requires 220 members, and it is clear that without their support, the session might not occur. As a result, the nomination will be on hold until a president is elected.

Farhad Alaaldin is the chairman of the Iraqi Advisory Council. He was the political adviser to former Iraqi President Fuad Masum, the former chief of staff to the KRG prime minister from 2009 to 2011, and the former senior adviser to the KRG prime minister from 2011 to 2012.

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