better fire up the old firebrand honey, cuz mookie’s back in town

Well not exactly, but, according to THIS report the Muqtada Sadr Trend is predicted to wrestle control over the the INC (Iraqi National Congress) away from the SIIC in the upcoming elections in Iraq. As a self confessed Sadr watcher (recently here and here), I’ve been following the peculiar evolution of his movement, especially in recent years, and how it has grown into what now seems self evidently, as a long developing, but understated, alliance with the Maliki government. If we remember back to the last election, the SIIC was significantly weakened, while Maliki’s “State of Law” block came out the surprising winner – that pushed Sadr’s party, still reeling from the combined Maliki/US push back, into a retreat from further militia activity that appeared to have set his influence back, and into what appeared to be subordinate and weakened position. At least until the results of that election were confirmed, at which point the Sadr bloc and the Maliki bloc publicly announced, that they a had in fact formed a political alliance with each other. In retrospect, this announcement gained little if any media attention. Because the announcement seemed so counter-intuitive to the conventional wisdom (that Sadr’s movement was a fading power) it was totally ignored by the Western press, and was at best seen as Maliki giving Sadr a charitable a fig leaf.

However, as I’ve tried to illustrate several times before, all of these events, that appear to show Sadr’s waining influence, never actually drifted far from both parties integral interests and have remained totally consistent with the reciprocal political needs of both organizations dating as back as far as the 2007 ethnic cleansing of Baghdad.

The current projections of a major win by Sadr’s party casts a new light on all these developments, and what  happened subsequently, now seems to have been contrived as political high theater, designed to both build up and reinforce Maliki’s power base while at the same time answering all of Sadr’s major demands, all of which have been construed to undermine the U.S. occupation authority. If it’s true and Sadr does win big (and SIIC looses big) this will only hasten the process, as his party will not only have elevated its authority, at the expense of its rivals, but also, put them in a position of if not king maker, of actually choosing the next Prime Minister. Which in turn, could also establish the new emerging political profile of the Iraqi government in post occupation Iraq, largely through taking credit for crafting the end of the occupation itself.

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