Friday, November 17, 2006

Sadr becoming better politician, but his militia splintering

"Few have ever described Moktada al-Sadr, the mercurial leader of Iraq’s mightiest Shiite militia [the Mahdi Army], as a statesman.
. . . Mr. Sadr is often described as fickle, image-obsessed and having a short attention span. But lately, he has cut a more sophisticated image.
. . . Perhaps most significant, Mr. Sadr has been paying visits to the son of Iraq’s most senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and apparently learning the arts of negotiation and compromise.
“Nowadays he’s communicating better,” said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security adviser. “Grand Ayatollah Sistani is trying to bring him within the fold.”
While all this is happening, however, the war has grown far deadlier for Iraqis on the street, and many of Mr. Sadr’s supporters are following a fresh crop of more militant Mahdi commanders."

The New York Times. Influence Rises but Base Frays for Iraqi Cleric. November 13, 2006.

posted: friday, november 17, 2006, 4:19 PM ET

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