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Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr speaking to his supporters before entering Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, March, 27, 2016 (AP photo by Karim Kadim).

Sadr Weathers Iraq’s Twists and Turns to Re-Emerge as Political Player

Friday, May 27, 2016

A key character from the Iraqi insurgency is back center stage in Baghdad, but what does it mean? The re-emergence of Muqtada al-Sadr, the 42-year-old Shiite cleric notorious for his firebrand rhetoric and command of a feared militia, the Mahdi Army, has sparked all kinds of coverage.

Sadr has been compared to an “Iraqi Gandhi”—an evolution, in the same headline, from “rabid warlord.” His apparent reinvention from militia leader to “shrewd political operator” has people asking, again, whether he is the most powerful man in Iraqi politics. The return of this “old provocateur” in February amid streets protests outside Baghdad’s Green Zone, the fortified government compound, led to a story last week calling him “the Donald Trump of Iraq.” ...

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