Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sadrists Hold Rally In Baghdad

The Sadr Movement flexed its muscle in Baghdad recently by holding a large rally in the streets of the capital on February 10, 2012. The rally was to celebrate the withdrawal of American forces from the country. Moqtada al-Sadr appeared before the crowd on a big screen TV delivering a pre-recorded message he made from Iran claiming that the resistance of his followers had forced the United States to not only depart, but to lose the Iraq War. He also asked the government to release his fighters from prison. Sadr has been making these types of remarks for months now both before and after the U.S. pulled out its troops in December 2011. This is because the Sadr Trend is so wedded to anti-Americanism it cannot give up the rhetoric. That’s why it has been complaining about the large U.S. Embassy staff as if it was the same as having thousands of foreign soldiers in the country. At the same time, the Sadrists have been pushing a coexistence initiative that is supposed to set the dialogue amongst Iraq’s parties after the U.S. withdrawal, have closely supported Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and pushed various populist policies in parliament. These are all the latest attempts by Sadr to fashion his movement into more of a social and political group, and away from its militia. The last time he tried to do this during the first Maliki administration, Sadr failed miserably. Only time will tell whether he learned anything from that first experience. 

Scenes From The Sadrist Rally In Baghdad, February 2012

Sadr masses in Baghdad (Reuters)
A procession of Arab flags starting with Iraq's (Reuters)
An honor guard carrying Iraqi flags (AP)
People waving Iraqi flags from poles erected for the rally (Reuters)
Holding a loft pictures of Moqtada al-Sadr (left) and his father Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr (right) (AFP)
Sadr giving his pre-recorded message on a large video screen (Reuters)

Agence France Presse, “Led by Muqtada Al Sadr, Iraqis celebrate departure of ‘occupiers,’” 2/10/12

Ali, Husam, “Sadrists invite everyone to honor conference,” AK News, 12/12/11

Aswat al-Iraq, “Sadr calls to counter US embassy official’s roaming in Baghdad,” 1/23/12
- “SECURITY: Shiite Sadrist Trend says US Forces out “thanks to armed resistance, not politics,”” 1/19/12

Ibrahim, Haider, “Thousands of Americans will not leave Iraq – said to be ‘diplomats,’” AK News, 12/14/11

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Iraq PM chides Sunni sections pushing for autonomy,” Associated Press, 12/24/11

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