The unifying power of the Antichrist

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.
Photo Credit : Shutterstock

The Immense Influence of the Antichrist (Revelation 13)

Tom Rogan
January 4, 2017 7:23 PM
All things are ready, if our minds be so.
— Shakespeare, Henry V
Iraq’s battle for Mosul is not going well.
Hundreds of Iraq’s most elite military personnel have been killed in action and thousands more wounded. Daesh — also known as the Islamic State, or ISIS — retains control over Mosul’s center and its western and northern suburbs. Speaking Wednesday, a U.S. military spokesman acknowledged that operations are “slow going.”
That won’t change any time soon. In the coming days, as Iraqi units approach Mosul’s central Tigris River crossings, Daesh will intensify the vehicle-borne suicide attacks it has employed to deadly effect. The death cult wants to hold out as long as it can in Mosul. Doing so, it rightly believes, will hurt the Iraqi government. Of course, unless Iraqi forces withdraw, they will eventually defeat Daesh. The problem, however, is that politics is the ultimate prize here.
And the longer this fight drags on, the more damage Iraqi and U.S. strategic interests will suffer. That’s because, as casualties mount and doubts over the progress of the liberation grow, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi faces rising political pressure. And that pressure comes not only from Daesh.
Enter Iran.
Iran’s foreign strategists are the world’s bloodhounds for political weakness. And seeing the human blood in Mosul, they smell political blood in Baghdad. Despising Prime Minister Abadi for his efforts to establish some semblance of multi-sectarian stability in Iraq, Iran wants to weaken him and eventually replace him with a supplicant goon — namely, former Iraqi prime minister and now Iranian puppet Nouri al-Maliki. And Iran is making progress toward that end. Late last year, it scored a major win when the Iraqi parliament legalized the Shia-militia-dominated, Iranian-orchestrated Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). PMF’s leaders, primarily Hadi al-Amiri of the Badr Organization, claim they are patriots supporting Iraqi forces in defeating Daesh. In reality, Mr. Amiri and Co. are puppets for Iranian regional hegemony.
To be clear: The PMF is not a national Iraqi alliance but a proxy for Iran’s Shia-revolutionary sectarian agenda. Iran wants the PMF to be for Iran in Iraq what the Lebanese Hezbollah is for Iran in Lebanon: an armed veto against sovereign democracy and a means to neutralize Iranian political adversaries. And in the last few weeks, Iran and Amiri have been upping the pressure on Abadi. They want Abadi to yield more power.
President Obama bears some responsibility here. Back in October, I explained that the U.S. had capabilities — whether effective intelligence support, accurate airstrikes, or many other enablers of military power — that Iraq needed in Mosul. These capabilities are crucial to boosting Iraqi combat effectiveness to help secure a quick victory. Unfortunately, President Obama refused to allow U.S. military advisers to enter Mosul with frontline Iraqi units. Instead, as American military spokespersons openly admit, U.S and allied ground forces are operating behind the front lines. That restriction limits their ability to support front-line Iraqi units. And on the battlefield, in mounting Iraqi casualties and slow progress, it shows.
Still, there is hope, albeit in an unlikely form. Enter Iraqi Shia-nationalist-populist cleric Muqtadaal-Sadr. Once a thorn in America’s side, Sadr has recently assumed a more constructive role in Iraqi politics. Jockeying for influence, he has decided that supporting Abadi is his best bet. And at least for the moment, Sadr is throwing his support to Abadi instead of to Maliki, Abadi’s main rival for the prime minister’s office. For months, Maliki has been working to undercut Abadi’s administration. He’s Iran’s political prong to Amiri’s sword. Don’t get me wrong: Sadr is no friend of America. But he does represent the power of democratic politics to shape positive coalitions.

The Antichrist and the Clueless West

It is somewhat weird that no major media outlet prepared any special report about the fact that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was executed exactly 10 years ago, on December 30, 2006. His death was both cheered and mourned by millions, resulting mainly from either political blindness or religious frenzy. The Shia cheered, the Sunni mourned and the West tried to rejoice and look optimistic despite the growing number of American soldiers killed in Iraq.
Following the invasion of Baghdad, the whereabouts of Saddam became unknown. There were rumors about him finding refuge at the Russian embassy, more bizarre rumors about him fleeing to Russia and some military experts insisted on the story that he was in Iraq, controlling the insurgency and guerilla war that spread throughout the country after the American invasion.
In the end everybody turned out to be wrong: he was found hiding, but clearly not in a condition or position to supervise insurgency; hiding in a hole not far from Tikrit, armed with a pistol, an AK-47 and 750 thousand US dollars.
His death resulted in no positive change regarding the situation in Iraq which continued to worsen. The country fell apart, suicide bombings, beheadings and mass executions occurred on a daily basis, the government basically had no control on a number of areas where many religious and insurgent terrorist groups were operating and the most well-known terrorist group, ISIS, came out of the ashes of the former Iraqi army and other radical militant Sunni organizations.

After all, the bad dictator is defeated, so the people should be happy, elect a new government and live happily ever after, isn’t it that simple?
The West was clueless since the whole situation was unexpected; we all remember the citizens of Baghdad cheering the American troops and celebrating during the destruction of Saddam’s famous statue. Nobody thought that Iraq, a land with one of the biggest proven oil reserves in the whole world, would soon become a place thrown into a bloody civil war. After all, the bad dictator is defeated, so the people should be happy, elect a new government and live happily ever after, isn’t it that simple?
No, it isn’t and this is what the West still doesn’t understand. The fabricated states based on the pre-World War I colonial borders are in deep trouble especially where there is a mixed Shia and Sunni population. Iraq has become a failed state, so has Syria and the situation might seem to improve for a while, but without dealing with the root cause, no matter how many bombs are dropped on Homs and Aleppo, there will not be peace. The only thing today that unites Islam is the content of the last words of Saddam Hussein; just before his death he shouted: “Allahu Akbar” and “Palestine is Arab”.
The Shia-Sunni divide is deeper than ever and the insurgency erupting in Iraq following the American invasion was the first sign of the so-called Arab Spring, which is not about democracy and human rights but instead about refusal and rejection. Islamists are not willing to accept anything other than their own beliefs, not even the other branches within Islam. They, of course, reject Western values, but this is something that it is considered not polite to admit so nothing is about to change. And the UN, a powerless and impotent organization preoccupied with putting the blame on Israel for everything, will continue to be a useless joke.
The West learned nothing since the execution of Saddam despite the fact that, unlike 10 years ago, today terrorism is clearly present in Europe and will continue to worsen.

The Antichrist Will Unite The Second Horn (Daniel 8:8)

01.01.17 10:00 PM ET
ERBIL, Iraq—Two injured Iraqi soldiers stretched on hospital beds were still in their uniforms, a haphazard mix of mismatched camouflage in the military ward of a hospital north of Mosul. The walls were peach-colored, as if painted for some other kind of place. The tang of antiseptic hung in the air.
Another soldier was in a wheelchair, his lower half covered in a heavy multicolored blanket.
The three men, all in their twenties, were injured trying to rescue Iraqis fleeing the so-called Islamic State just after dawn on Dec. 26 outside the village of Telskuf, about 20 miles from the besieged ISIS capital in Iraq.
The soldiers say ISIS fighters spotted them as the they dashed from behind defenses to escort the villagers, and opened up with gunfire and mortars.
“A third of the people were killed, a third injured, and a third got away,” one of the soldiers said in Arabic. Two of the soldiers were shot and a third hit by shrapnel from a mortar blast.
The three wounded soldiers asked that their names not be published for fear of ISIS retribution against members of their families still trapped inside Mosul.
These men are not from the Iraqi Army, or the Kurdish Peshmerga, nor are they part of the newly legalized Popular Mobilization Forces—the mostly Shiite militia groups, which now answer directly to Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and which previously were accused of summary killings, kidnapping, and torture.
These three wounded belong to a militia that is mostly Sunni from Mosul, and they’re fighting to free their loved ones. They don’t trust Abadi or his Shiite-dominated administration. And when ISIS is gone, if they feel their community is suffering abuse again, they could become the vanguard of an ISIS 2.0, dragging Iraq into a civil war akin to Syria next door–and miring the U.S. in the chaos.
Abadi’s government is aware of the risk, and is considering completely withdrawing its mostly Shiite army from all Iraqi bases once the fight against ISIS is done, and deploying its newly legalized militia groups to keep the peace in the cities they come from.
But this particular group of locals, the Knights of Ninewa, or Haras Ninewa, aren’t invited. Made up of Arab Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Yazidis, this force answers to the former Mosul governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, a man some Shiite politicians blame for failing to stop ISIS’s initial takeover of the city in 2014. That intramural conflict has lain dormant as everyone fights ISIS, but will re-emerge the moment that fighting stops.
The resentments are already building. The men in the hospital told The Daily Beast that they get no pay nor medical benefits nor survivor benefits for their families if they are injured, unlike Abadi’s now-legal Shiite militia groups. They have no confidence that the Iraqi government will do any better representing the rights of Sunnis and other minorities after Mosul is captured than it did before ISIS rule.
Given the kind of allegations leveled in the past against some of the militias in the mostly Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces, the organization’s current charm offensive seems incongruous at times as its leaders vow to professionalize and eject any member who abuses the group’s newly awarded authority as the prime minister’s de facto strike force.
Since its first day, it was for all of Iraq, not for a specific sect of religion,” PMF spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi told The Daily Beast in an interview at his heavily but discreetly defended Baghdad home.
He described the PMF as “a volunteer force” of nearly 60 different groups that has worked unpaid until now. The Iraqi government has just budgeted a salary for 110,000 fighters as part of the new law, which al-Asadi said is being parceled out among roughly 142,000 “troops.”
Some of the groups were formed originally to fight the U.S. military occupation: Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces killed Americans by the dozen. But most of the fighters signed up after Iraqi Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa or religious order in 2014 calling on Iraqis to protect the state from ISIS. Some of the factions, like K’tab Hizbullah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq are considered to be veritable extensions of the Iranian military’s Quds Force, although al-Asady disagrees.
Al-Asady concedes that the bulk of the combined officially recognized militias are Shiite, but says there are also groups that include minorities like Sunnis, Christians, and Yazidis.
He says that now that the militias are legal, they will separate from the political parties or movements that gave rise to them, and answer only to the prime minister. The Iraqi military code of justice will also apply to them, although the details are still being worked out as the law Iraq’s Parliament passed is a scant page and a half long.
Such forces have been accused of carrying out a scorched earth policy toward Sunnis and anyone suspected of working with ISIS, a reaction to the continuing campaign of deadly attacks and bombings aimed at Shiite neighborhoods (like the explosions that killed more than 20 people in Baghdad on Saturday).
Reports persist that the most hard line of the groups are holding up to 3,000 prisoners in up to five makeshift jails, some for alleged crimes, and some to exchange for ransoms that help fund militia activities.
Al-Asady denies those reports, but he says Iraq’s justice ministry has appointed a judge who is working his way through 300 reported cases of abuse by militia members ranging from alleged prisoner abuse to summary executions. He said only roughly a quarter of those accused are genuine militia members and the rest are part of wannabe groups like the Knights of Ninewa.
He insists the wider force is now being trained to understand the Geneva Conventions and international human rights law.
“Instilling discipline started about a year and a half ago. We opened specialized training camps,” to provide “moral guidance… tasked with spreading this culture across the PMF.”
He said the militias had invited international human rights organizations to lecture dozens of his forces, like the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC confirmed it had held seminars with some of the groups.
U.S. Coalition Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend says the militia groups have been remarkably disciplined since he arrived, although he’d heard the previous allegations of human rights abuses.
“It all seems to be focused on fighting Daesh,” the general said, using the pejorative Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Townsend said he thought the PMF could be a force for stability in Iraq if it becomes more of a national guard rather than an extension of Iran.
That’s a big “if” when many of the groups already have a heavy complement of Iranian advisers and equipment, leading to allegations that Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani is orchestrating Iraq’s war on ISIS. Indeed, Suleimani taunts the U.S. on social media, but Townsend does not allow himself to be baited.
Townsend is relentlessly circumspect.
“They [the Iranians] are advising the PMF because no one else is,” Townsend said. “They are a neighbor of Iraq’s. They are a fact of life here. I can’t do much about it.”
He, and other senior western officials who asked to remain anonymous, hold on to the hope that Iraq’s desire for independence will trump Iran’s ability to act as puppeteer.
“Not all Iraqi Shia align with Iran. There are plenty of nationalists that see Iran as… a competitor,” Townsend said.
As for Iranians and American military advisers on the battlefield?
“They stay over there, and we stay over here,” he said. “I try not to let them trouble me.”
Iraq’s Deputy National Security Advisor Safa al-Sheikh said some of the militias had been somewhat difficult to control, which is all the more reason to bring them under the Iraqi government’s legal umbrella, he said.
“It’s important to have a law, in order to contain the popular mobilization units, to put them [under] discipline,” he said in an interview at his office inside the Iraqi government’s heavily defended Green Zone.
He said there were tens of thousands of minorities who also made up militia groups under the government’s control, adding that “the PMF has been misinterpreted outside Iraq.”
That especially applies to groups like K’tab Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), which are advised by the Iranian military.
“There is a great influence of Iran on them. There is some influence of the Iraqi government on them, and there is a good degree of self interest” driving their actions, Safa said.
Disciplining members who step out of line will be a challenge, he said.
K’tab Hezbollah and AAH are believed to hold the bulk of the illegally detained prisoners, according to human rights, Western and Iraqi officials who all spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Safa said the Iraqi government had not been able to verify the existence of the secret detention facilities, but authorities did find evidence of other abuses.
“We have heard about the detention facilities, but we could never verify these numbers in these reports,” he said. “However they could find violations that happened including killing of some of the detainees—more than 10 people in one incident,” after the battle to drive ISIS out of Fallujah. He said that that particular case was attributed to the individual seeking revenge because his brother had been killed, but he did not offer further details.
“Bottom line, it was not a policy by the groups,” he said.
Safa said the Iraqi government is considering a post-ISIS plan that would see Iraq’s mostly Shiite army withdrawn from all the cities, especially non-Shiite ones, so as not to cause friction with the local population which he says is what contributed to the rise of ISIS in Mosul and throughout Sunni-majority Anbar Province. In their place, PMF forces that came from the towns they would patrol would back up local police as a sort of reserve force.
“Why have them?” said Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa. “We should have invested in the Iraqi army. Not have a force from one sect.
“Are we going to the Islamization of this country? Are we going to see the majority set aside the minorities?” he asked.
In an interview with The Daily Beast at his ministry office in Erbil, Mustafa said that while Kurds “appreciate the sacrifices of some of those who have come to help protect Baghdad and the country,” not all of the groups are disciplined.
“This will create a problem for the future of Iraq,” he said.
Mustafa griped that while the militia groups will now be paid by the Iraqi government, his Peshmerga forces had to be funded by the Pentagon—to the tune of $450 million for his roughly 180,000 volunteers. U.S. Forces work closely with the Peshmerga as they do with the Iraqi army, but they do not advise the militia groups.
Back in the hospital, the newly legal status of the mostly Shiite PMF groups doesn’t sit well with the injured militiamen from Mosul who have no hope of receiving pay or benefits from the Iraqi government.
“If anything happens to me, no one will take care of my family,” one of the fighters said.
From their perspective the money just goes to the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. But even more telling, in their view, is the way the U.S.-led coalition doles out critical support during combat.
Just before they were attacked, they say, four Humvees with Americans in them had been observing them from a distance. When they came under fire, they say, the Americans quickly drove away rather than helping them the way they have seen the American soldiers do for the Peshmerga or Iraqi troops.
U.S. military advisors have been ordered to stay out of the front lines by the White House, except in the rare special operations missions accompanying elite Iraqi or Kurdish forces on a specific raid or operation.
But from the point of view of the wounded fighters of the Knights of Ninewa, the Americans should have helped.
“They just left us,” one said.
Worse, they think the new incoming Trump administration will work with the Shiite government to keep them down.
“Trump is going to raze the Muslim world,” one of them said, to nods all around.
—Saud Murrani contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Bawar Ihsan contributed reporting from Erbil.

Antichrist Calls for Change in National Iraqi Alliance

6 hours ago 47
Baghdad, London – Two days after Shi’ite Supreme Religious Authority Ali Sistani refused to receive the National Iraqi Alliance delegation, Sadrist Movement Leader Muqtada al-Sadr said this was a “public rejection” for the current alliance.
Sadr issued a statement saying that coalition should reconsider the reasons for this rejection, and he presented 12 suggestions for the alliance in order to work for a better Iraq. He also showed his willingness to cooperate to reconstruct the alliance in a new form.
In his statement, Sadr called for change in the political alliance as well as internal and public policies. He asked for the corrupt to be held accountable for their actions and called the officials at the alliance to listen to the demands of the people.
In addition, Sadr asked for the support of the Iraqi army and security forces.
He further stressed that the Religious Authority represents people, and thus its rejection to meet with the delegation, means a public rejection.
He concluded his statement with his offer to cooperate for building a better Iraq, and said: “I have offered once before my support to establish the coalition in a different manner with new faces in power, if you are willing, I am fully ready to cooperate again even though I am not a member of the coalition.”
On Friday, Religious Authority refused to be involved in the “historical settlement” plan that was presented by the coalition, which some parties later recanted. The plan was then adopted by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq led by Ammar al-Hakim.
Sistani refused to meet the delegation chaired by Hakim and called the coalition to listen to the demands of the protests.
Hamed al-Khaffaf, spokesman of Sistani, stressed in a statement that the presidency of the National Iraqi Coalition and its delegation requested an appointment to meet with Sayyid Sistani, who apologized as he has always done before.
Khaffaf added that the Religious Authority refused to meet with the delegation for the same reasons he had decided to boycott all political powers, which were mentioned in the statement issued following the first demands movement.
The spokesperson added that the coalition wanted to include the Religious Authority in the settlement, which Sayyid Sistani didn’t see beneficial nor helpful.
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

Iraq’s PM Appeases The Antichrist

Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr [L] met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi [R] following tensions between both sides that lasted for at least nine months. Photo: Iraqi PM office.
BAGHDAD, Iraq—Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with prominent Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad on Monday to discuss the war against ISIS, the country’s security and political situation and most importantly, to mend ties after almost a year of tensions between Sadrists and the government and public protests.
At a joint press conference Aabdi said that he hoped for “political understanding between the [Iraqi] parties.” Abadi’s Dawa Party and his government came under attack from Sadr who sent angry protestors into parliament and Green Zone in April.
Sadr for his part, told reporters that he had a “fruitful” meeting with the prime minister where he had pledged his support for the army, completion of the government’s reform plans and promotion of moderate voices in the country.
At the press conference Sadr criticized former PM Nouri al-Maliki’s heavy-handed military response against his group across the country and told Abadi that his government should be different and avoid such actions, referring to his recent anti-government demonstrations.
Abadi and Maliki’s Dawa party offices have come under attack by Sadr supporters in different cities in the south of Iraq, including in the city of Najaf.
Monday’s meeting between Sadr and Abadi is seen by observers as against a possible Maliki comeback, who said in a Wall Street Journal interview recently that he didn’t seek office again, but that Iraqis needed change, a hint at removing Abadi after the ISIS operation.
The two leaders met in the heavily fortified Green Zone which was stormed by thousands of demonstrators in late April following a speech by Sadr who called for an end of government corruption and waste of public funds.
Other Iraqi leaders, such as Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq have urged national unity among Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis and preparation for the post-ISIS era.
Al-Hakim has since met with the Iraqi political parties, including Sunni politicians, and has been to Iran and Jordan, two influential regional countries to lend their support to his reconciliation process.

Abadi Tries To Appease The Antichrist

PM Haidar al-Abadi meets Muqtada al-Sadr, who in recent months led series of anti-government protests
By Arif Yusuf and Ali Jawad
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Monday met with firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who in recent months has led a series of anti-government demonstrations.
The meeting tackled a host of political and security issues, particularly the war against Daesh and ongoing operations to retake the city of Mosul from the notorious terrorist group, according to a statement issued by al-Abadi’s office.
Monday’s meeting was the first between the two men since February, when al-Sadr called for the dismissal of al-Abadi’s cabinet.
In March, al-Sadr supporters staged a series of protests in Baghdad to demand that al-Abadi replace members of his cabinet with a government of “technocrats” untainted by corruption or sectarian affiliations.
Al-Sadr’s Ahrar Bloc holds 34 out of 328 seats in Iraq’s parliament.
The Ahrar Bloc, however, is not represented in Iraq’s current government after Ahrar-affiliated ministers collectively resigned in April.
“The meeting [between al-Sadr and al-Abadi] was intended to coordinate positions between members of the National Alliance,” alliance member Habib al-Turifi said.
The Shia-oriented National Alliance, which includes both al-Sadr’s Ahrar Bloc and al-Abadi’s Islamic Dawa Party, is the largest bloc in Iraq’s parliament.
According to al-Turifi, al-Abadi intends to propose a list of new ministers to parliament following the end of the current parliamentary recess.
For the last ten weeks, the Iraqi army has led a wide-ranging offensive to retake Mosul, which was captured by Daesh in mid-2014.
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Why Moqtada Is The Antichrist (Revelation 13)

Muqtada’s metamorphosis lies between maniacal and Machiavellian.
Zach Abels
April 24, 2016
Who are you and what have you done with Muqtada al-Sadr? The man impersonating Iraq’s firebrand Shia cleric gave himself away early Wednesday when he called on the United Nations and Organization for Islamic Cooperation to mediate the country’s boiling political crisis. Cue spit take. How does one go from rabid warlord to Iraqi Gandhi in the space of a decade? Muqtada’s dumbfounding metamorphosis lies somewhere between maniacal and Machiavellian.
Al-Sadr is the most revered name in Shia Iraq and, for many, synonymous with unflinching anti-imperialism. Before Muqtada surfaced in Western newspapers, the al-Sadr family name had already been twice immortalized by martyrdom. Sayyid Muhammad al-Sadr played an active role in the 1920 uprising against the British. Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (in folklore, Sadr I) helped establish the Islamic Dawa Party in 1958 to defend the hawza, or community of Shia scholarship, against the secularization of Iraqi society. Saddam Hussein hanged Baqir on April 8, 1980—he was the first Grand Ayatollah to be executed in modern history.
Whereas Baqir advocated for a political revolution, his cousin Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (Sadr II) built a mass movement, one that would restore Shiism’s relevance to the spiritual and sociopolitical needs of the faithful. After the United States routed the Iraqi military and expelled it from Kuwait in 1991, the Shia rose up in the hope that Washington would come to their aid. No help came. Following Saddam’s horrific suppression of the Shaaban Intifada, Iraq’s Shia poor were angry and fearful. Compounding the suffering, UN sanctions devastated the Iraqi masses rather than the political elite supposedly targeted. Sadiq’s overt hostility to the West resonated profoundly. He prefaced his Friday sermons with “No, no to America! No, no to Israel!” Saddam assassinated Sadiq and his two elder sons on February 19, 1999.
Muqtada assumed leadership over the Sadrist movement after the murder of his father and brothers. The coalition invasion enabled Muqtada to transform himself from little known, modestly credentialed cleric to one of the most important political figures in post-Saddam Iraq. Muqtada’s vigorous nationalism and unwavering anti-Americanism were central to his popular appeal. When Washington set up the Iraqi Governing Council on July 13, 2003, rival Shia and secular leaders eagerly joined. Muqtada did not. More so than any other leader in occupied Iraq, Muqtada understood the grave domestic consequences of being perceived as a puppet of a foreign entity.
Muqtada tailored his messaging to the young, poor, urbanized Shia. International Crisis Group observed in 2006 that, from the outset, Muqtada “gave voice to a proud, authentic popular identity while advocating violent struggle against the root causes of oppression.” As far as the Sadrists were concerned, the root causes of oppression in post-Saddam Iraq emanated, above all, from the American occupying force.
Only a true Iraqi, Muqtada argued, could legitimately wield religious and political power over Iraq’s Shia. While other Shia leaders adopted a conciliatory posture towards coalition forces, Muqtada invoked his father’s hostility towards the West and framed the occupation as the continuation of the abject suffering imposed upon Iraq’s Shia during the sanctions regime the previous decade.
Muqtada formed the Mahdi Army (Jaysh al-Mahdi or JAM) in June 2003. Lebanese Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh reportedly helped form JAM by recruiting Kuwaiti and Saudi Shia, and then sending them to Lebanon for basic militia training.
In the eyes of many, Muqtada’s hands will forever be stained with the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike. On April 4, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority issued an arrest warrant for Muqtada. The Sadrist leader retreated to Kufa and issued a direct call to arms. In a Friday sermon, Muqtada declared, “I and my followers of the believers have come under attack from the occupiers, imperialism, and the appointees. . . . Be on the utmost readiness, and strike them where you meet them.” In Sadr City, JAM fighters pinned down a patrol from the First Cavalry Division and stormed seven police stations in the area. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed and fifty-one were wounded. JAM took up tactical positions in and around the holy shrines of Najaf, Kufa and Karbala. The fighting lasted nearly two months.
A second uprising broke out in early August when JAM fighters attacked a U.S. Marine patrol in Najaf. MNF-I commander General George Casey dispatched the Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Second Battalion of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment to neutralize JAM once and for all. Sadr responded by seizing the Imam Ali shrine. The fighting was intense and JAM sustained heavy losses. On August 14, Muqtada gave a press conference that Al Jazeera transmitted in full across the Middle East. “Najaf,” he hyperbolized, “has triumphed over imperialism and imperial hubris.”
Muqtada reaped political capital from the spoils of battles he tactically lost. Not for the first or last time, Muqtada proved capable of deft political pragmatism. He allied with Shia rivals and, in January 2005, claimed twenty-three seats in parliament. The Sadrists were rewarded with the ministries of health, transportation and housing.
On February 22, 2006, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) blew up the al-Askari Shia shrine in Samarra, dragging JAM into the unforgiving, brutal civil war phase of the conflict. Every act of violence committed by a Shia death squad was attributed to JAM, regardless of verifiable affiliation. By March 2007, the U.S. military assessed that JAM had “replaced AQ-I as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence in Iraq.” The “Shia extremists” President Bush threatened in his 2007 State of the Union undoubtedly referred to Muqtada and his followers. (Few Westerners could distinguish between JAM, the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah back then. A Shia militia was a Shia militia.)
Muqtada disappeared from view in January 2007. Four months later, he resurfaced and championed intersectarian unity in the face of AQI, doubling down on his nationalist rhetoric. Muqtada announced on June 13, 2008 that he was transforming JAM into a nonviolent social-services organization; on August 28, he ordered JAM to cease all paramilitary activity. He would relabel JAM the Promised Day Brigades and winnow it down into a small, elite cadre of tightly controlled militiamen. Muqtada all but vanished from Iraq’s militia landscape. On August 6, 2013, Muqtada signaled he would withdraw from political life as well, wishing not “to be part of a conspiracy against the Iraqi people.”
A single day after Mosul fell to ISIS in June 2014, Muqtada breathed life back into the Mahdi Army and christened the Peace Brigades. “No to America! No to Israel!” chanted the militiamen. Along with other powerful Shia militias, they answered Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s call to arms and together formed the Popular Mobilization Forces. Hadi al-Amiri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis have since eclipsed their rivals as the faces of the Shia fight against ISIS. Until very recently, Muqtada remained quiet.
After eight years of hibernation, Muqtada returned to the limelight, ostensibly to help salvage Iraq from the depths of despair. ISIS may not have the chance to destroy Iraq. Low oil prices, political gridlock, and rampant corruption will likely beat the jihadists to the punch. Iraq ranks 161 out of 168 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Muqtada’s political reentry was more cannonball than splash. For months, thousands of Iraqis have been railing against government corruption and a lack of basic public services. In January 2016, Muqtada awoke from his slumber and publicly delivered Haider al-Abadi a forty-five-day ultimatum to form a new cabinet of technocrats—in stark contrast to the partisan incompetents currently running the ministries. In late February, hundreds of thousands of Sadrists took to Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. “No to corruption and the corrupt,” they shouted. Muqtada spoke on stage with oxymoronic Peace Brigaders at his side. “Abadi must carry out grassroots reform. . . . Raise your voice and shout so the corrupt get scared of you.”
The Sadrist masses pitched a sprawling protest camp just outside the Green Zone’s fortified walls. The deadline passed in early March with no progress. Instead of ordering his legions to storm the Green Zone, Muqtada nonchalantly strutted in himself, accompanied by only a handful of aides. The optics were impeccable. The soldiers defending the capital’s most secure zone literally embraced him. “The general in charge of security knelt and kissed his hand,” the Washington Post reported.
Muqtada’s aides set up camp. Five days later, Abadi proposed a reformist, technocratic cabinet to parliament, going so far as to thank Muqtada in his speech. Parliament’s sectarian power brokers predictably erected roadblocks. Muqtada redirected his threat-laden rhetoric their way. Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah reportedly attempted to broker a truce between Muqtada and the still-powerful Nouri al-Maliki. He was unsuccessful.
Wednesday witnessed the political crisis’s apex. Muqtada called for “peaceful protests under the same intensity and even more in order to pressure the politicians and the lovers of corruption.” Moreover, “Nobody has the right to stop it otherwise the revolution will take another turn.” And then it happened. Not unlike George H. W. Bush reversing his “read my lips” pledge not to raise taxes, Iraq’s most demagogic nationalist appealed for foreign intervention. “We call upon the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations to interfere to get the Iraqi people out of their ordeal and to correct the political process even through holding early elections.”
Some analysts believe Muqtada is cynically hijacking Abadi’s reform agenda—publicly championing anticorruption, while privately blocking progress. It’s probably too soon to tell. Muqtada al-Sadr has never been one thing. During the American occupation, he was at once proxy, populist, patriot, politician—and, to AQI, pagan. Plotting his trajectory can feel like a fool’s errand. Muqtada may not appear himself, but he probably hasn’t truly shed his populist skin to don an establishment suit. He won’t betray his nationalist roots so lightly.
Zach Abels is assistant editor at the National Interest.

The Antichrist Calls For Peace

Iraq's Sadr calls for 'immediate halt' to Syria violence
The New Arab

Iraq’s Sadr calls for ‘immediate halt’ to Syria violence

The Iraqi cleric warned against the shedding of blood in Syria [AFP]
Date of publication: 18 December, 2016
Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for an immediate halt to the war in Syria and an end to violations in a statement on Saturday.
Although Sadr did not direct his comments to any particular faction of the Syrian war, it comes at the time of heightened bloodshed following a massive offensive on Aleppo.
Sadr urged for an end to “the cycle of war in Syria and a halt to all the violations”, adding that it is important that “all Muslims are treated equally in Islamic countries”, according news site Arabi21which accessed the statement. 
The Iraqi cleric warned against “shedding the blood of your brother without right or in the favour of a political policy”.
Sadr said “everyone must see us as advocates of peace. If Prophet Mohammed was among us today, he would be heavily disturbed with what is going on. This is a massaive disaster and we must all call for peace”.
Sadr urged “all faiths and religions to keep the spirit of unity,” adding that “moderate Sunnis must be open to work” in the interest of the wider Islamic nation to bring an end to the injustices.
Aleppo has seen some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 400,000 people.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura estimated that as of Thursday around 40,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 5,000 opposition fighters remained in Aleppo’s rebel enclave.
The ICRC appealed for safe passage for the civilians still trapped in the city.
“People have suffered a lot. Please come to an agreement and help save thousands of lives,” said ICRC Syria delegation head Marianne Gasser.
“We cannot abandon these people.”
The main regional supporters of the rival sides in the devastating civil war have engaged in a flurry of diplomacy to try to secure a resumption of evacuations.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA said the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran would meet on Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the conflict.

Antichrist Causing Political Shakeup

Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr ‘to retire from politics’

Moqtada Sadr (26 April 2012)
Moqtada Sadr spent several years in self-imposed exile in Iran
Iraq’s radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has announced he is retiring from political life, in a handwritten note posted on his website.
The statement said he would not hold future government positions or have any representatives in parliament.
Mr Sadr and his militia group, the Mehdi Army, gained prominence after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But the 40-year-old lost ground in recent years following a dispute with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Mr Maliki is seeking re-election in the parliamentary election in April – a move publicly opposed by Mr Sadr’s bloc.
Anti-US sentiment
Mr Sadr’s statement said he was shutting down all his offices except for some charities.
Born into a religious Shia family, the cleric galvanised anti-US sentiment in sermons and public interviews after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein eleven years ago.
Iraqi solder in front of a poster of Moqtada Sadr in Baghdad (11 June 2012)
The cleric became a symbol of resistance to foreign occupation
Mr Sadr’s followers clashed repeatedly with US forces, whose withdrawal the cleric consistently demanded.
An arrest warrant was issued for Mr Sadr in 2004 in connection with the murder of a rival cleric.
His militia was also blamed for the abduction, torture and killing of thousands of Sunnis in the sectarian carnage of 2006 and 2007. Mr Sadr fled to Iran during that period.
In 2008, his Mehdi Army militia clashed with the Iraqi army, commanded by Prime Minister Maliki.
Many were arrested, and Mr Sadr’s group said it was laying down arms and disbanding.
The cleric later made a truce with Prime Minister Maliki and helped him to secure a second term in office in 2010. The Sadr bloc became closely involved in the new government and obtained several ministerial posts following the election.
In 2011, Mr Sadr returned from his self-imposed exile to Iraq, taking a more conciliatory tone and calling for Iraqi unity and peace.