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Moqtada Al-Sadr will not be absent for a long time

A supporter of Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carries away items as their encampment in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone is dismantled on August 30, 2022 [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]
A supporter of Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carries away items as their encampment in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone is dismantled on August 30, 2022 [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]

Almost two decades ago, the US invasion of Iraq took place and overthrew the dictator, Saddam Hussein, uprooted the Ba'ath Party, dismantled its oppressive security system and dissolved the official army. However, it did not establish a new political mechanism for an alternative democratic system, despite the promise of US President, George W. Bush, at the time that Iraq will be a role model of democracy in the Arab world, to be emulated by the Arab people!

The political vacuum has become dominant in Iraq, and it has been filled by political and religious groups that do not focus on state-building but, rather quite the contrary, countering forces that fight to return Iraq to a strong and coherent state, and these forces are intimately connected to Iran.

Sectarianism sprang up, grew and expanded. Iran penetrated all the institutions of the State, such as the government, the judiciary, the media, parliament and Iraqi society under the eyes of the United States. It managed to establish an Iraqi army under its command similar to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, called the "Popular Mobilisation Forces" (PMF). It also formed political parties, at a time when the US gradually withdrew from the Iraqi arena after handing it on a silver platter to Iran, due to their mutual interests there. Both the US and Iran sought to make Iraq a weak and bankrupt State. The US wants Iraq to be weak to serve the Zionist entity, while Iran considers it as an extension of its State, as if it has become a governorate within its territory. Did not one of the Iranian officials say that Iran occupies four Arab countries, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria?

READ: Iraq Sadrist movement calls on judiciary to challenge resignation of its MPs

Unfortunately, the will of Iraqis was lost between their blind adherence to the political and religious authorities who fight over the State from outside the State. When Iraqis rebelled in the autumn of 2019, and tried to break out of these sectarian authorities and chanted, "Iran out, Iran out", "Iran will not rule Iraq", and other slogans that refer to patriotism, it was a strong expression of a broad Iraqi popular rejection of all Iran's interventions in Iraq and a rejection of all its men in Iraq. The revolution of the Iraqis was an expression of the Arabism that runs in their veins and the adherence to all the values of the Iraqi identity rooted in Iraqi land, away from Persian Shiism and the malicious Safavid project that Iran wants to spread in the Arab world. But, unfortunately, everyone turned against them and took down their revolution.

However, Iraqi popular anger remained hidden under the ashes of this Iranian occupier until it appeared in the recent events in Baghdad, as a result of an accumulation that lasted for years. Many Iraqi political elites who came with the US invasion of Iraq did not live long in Iraq, but rather lived under the Islamic Jurist system in Tehran for decades, and were supported and trained under the slogan "opposing Saddam ". They provided all the obligations of obedience and loyalty to Iran and, when they returned to Iraq, they returned with the mentality of the occupier, not the Iraqi citizen, and this explains to us their murders against the Iraqi blood, their theft and corruption. Through this, they were able to impoverish a rich country and keep its people poor and destitute.

Hands are tied as the political unrest continues in Iraq - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Hands are tied as the political unrest continues in Iraq – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

During the recent clashes launched by Moqtada Al-Sadr's supporters against the Republican Palace, voices affiliated with the Sunni public in Iraq commended Moqtada Al-Sadr as the warrior who resists Iranians in Iraq; they went far as to say that Al-Sadr's attack on the Green Zone was "nothing less than the liberation of Al-Faw". Former Iraqi parliament member, Najeh Almezan said that Moqtada Al-Sadr is the third hero of Al-Qadisiyyah.

The Americans also celebrated Moqtada Al-Sadr and started to glorify him and present him as the greatest Iraqi civilian leader fighting Iran, while Al-Sadr was a wanted criminal and the leader of an insurgent gang in the opinion of Bush and the US military in 2004. The US military commander said: "The mission of the US military is to kill or arrest Al-Sadr", while Bush said: "We will not allow Al-Sadr to control Iraq." Now the US media is promoting him and saying that he is leading a national revolution against Iran.

READ: Iraq PM threatens to quit if protests continue

Al-Sadr was the sole hero of recent Iraqi events, and he announced his final retirement from political work on the night of 29 August, and also stopped his tweets and his Sadrist Movement's pages on all social media platforms.

Despite this decision of retirement, it is not certain that he will continue with it, since he had previously announced his political retirement in 2014, closed the offices of the Sadrist Movement, and dissolved its armed militia, the "Mahdi Army" which consists of sixty thousand fighters, and converted it into a cultural organisation which he called "Saraya Al-Salam". Then he came back and abolished his retirement and participated in the elections and the government, and then decided to re-arm the "Saraya Al-Salam" organisation in 2020, which was prominent in the last night of violence, so I think his retirement is evasion or a manoeuvre on his party, and he will return to the political arena after becoming the most difficult figure in the political arena, and among the Shias of Iraq. He has millions of supporters among the poorest Shias, which their youth, motivated by national social, not sectarian, motives had moved. Moqtada Al-Sadr has become a popular leader, and will not easily abandon this position in favour of Iran followers.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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