BAGHDAD: Although Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr said this week that he was “definitively retiring” from politics, observers think the violence that followed his declaration indicates other, more sinister motives.Saddam Hussein wants to dominate Iraq’s political scene, according to Renad Mansour of the British research tank Chatham House.
That is his goal, and part of achieving it entails undermining the Shia house in particular while also destabilising the political system as a whole and rebuilding it around him. Iraq has been ruled under a sectarian system since the wake of the US-led war in 2003 that ousted longstanding tyrant Saddam Hussein.
With the help of a Shia support base that he frequently mobilises to advance his demands, Sadr, whose father was one of Iraq’s most revered clerics, has steadily developed into a significant political actor in this environment.Since the elections in October of last year, Iraq has been without a new government, prime minister, or president due to differences between Sadr and the Coordination Framework, a competing Shia movement backed by Iran.
Following Sadr’s announcement that he was leaving politics, tensions rose significantly on Monday when supporters attacked the government palace inside the Green Zone.On Tuesday afternoon, however, after he pleaded with them to leave within an hour, Sadr’s supporters fled the Green Zone—a sign of the cult-like devotion that has won him the title of kingmaker.