TNN : Who is Moqtada Al Sadr? The Iraqi warlord who claims to fight corruption by Robert Tollast

Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr take part in a rally protesting over a rival political bloc's nomination for prime minister, in Nasiriyah. AFP

Qui est Moqtada Al Sadr ? Le chef de guerre irakien qui prétend lutter contre la corruption

The cleric rose to prominence organising resistance to US and British forces but has since become a powerful political force/L’ecclésiastique a pris de l’importance en organisant la résistance aux forces américaines et britanniques, mais est depuis devenu une force politique puissante

Radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr is once again upending Iraqi politics by asking his legion of supporters to occupy the national Parliament for the second time since 2016, this time blocking rival MPs, many aligned to Iran-backed political parties in a coalition called the Co-Ordination Framework, from convening to form government.

On Monday, the sit-in spurred a counter-protest, largely led by Asaib Ahl Al Haq, a splinter group from the Sadrist movement backed by Iran with a political party aligned to former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki — Mr Al Sadr’s arch rival.

The group is widely accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing civilians during Iraq’s civil war and later killing hundreds of protesters in 2019.

They fought street battles with the Mr Al Sadr’s militia in Baghdad between 2012 and 2014.

Since then, rivalry has involved assassinations of members from both groups.

The recent standoff has led to fears of a new civil war — this time Shiite against Shiite.

Who is Moqtada Al Sadr?

The cleric has long claimed to fight corruption and oppression, whether that of the Saddam Hussein regime or after 2003, the US.

Through numerous protests between 2016 and 2020, he aligned his movement with Iraqi Communists and youth protest groups, calling for “a revolution of the oppressed” that could put an end to Iraq’s system of sectarian apportionment in government and usher in public service based on quality rather than identity. READ MORE