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Al Sadr To Split His Party Into Two

According to today’s International Herald Tribune, “Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, said Friday that he would divide his Mahdi army militia in two: one elite unit of fighters and a group that would work on community and religious programs”.

It now seems more than ever that Al Sadr is following the model of Hezbollah. This is a very smart move by the young cleric. It is very possible that he was encouraged to do this while studying to become an Ayatollah in Iran, under Ayatollah Shahroudi.

This move will serve Al Sadr well. Establishing a social network will mean increasing the group’s influence in every day life of Shiites, thus giving Al Sadr more credibility and political leverage. In fact, it is possible that when it comes to services such as health, his social charities will be moe efficient than what the government offers, due to less bureacracy, and the fact that he alone would be in charge of receiving funds and distributing them. This is in contrast to sectarian based squabbles over budget allocation in the Iraqi government.With increasing calls in the US to reduce military and financial aid to Iraq, Al Sadr has chosen the right time to increase his influence.

Nevertheless, he has a long way to go, as according to reports, there are criminals amongst his group who have used the Mahdi army to demand extortion and have made life more difficult for Shiites. However if successful, the Shiites followers of Al Sadr will closely be following the success of the Kurds in northern Iraq, who are leading the country in terms of relative stability and economic progress.

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Posted on : Aug 09 2008
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Posted under Iraq |

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