iraq’s al-Sadr joins with iran coali­tion

The Republican Herald - - NATION/WORLD -

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Shi­ite cleric Muq­tada al-Sadr, whose coali­tion won the largest num­ber of seats in last month’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, has an­nounced an al­liance with an Iran-backed coali­tion ahead of marathon ne­go­ti­a­tions to form a new gov­ern­ment.

The move, an­nounced by al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri of the Fatah coali­tion in the revered south­ern Shi­ite city of Na­jaf, came as a sur­prise as al-Sadr has been tout­ing him­self as a na­tion­al­ist leader who op­poses Ira­nian in­flu­ence in Iraq.

The new al­liance con­trols 101 seats, still far from the 165 re­quired for a ma­jor­ity.

At a news con­fer­ence Tues­day, the two lead­ers said their al­liance is aimed at ex­pe­dit­ing the for­ma­tion of a new gov­ern­ment and called on oth­ers to join them.

“We had a very pos­i­tive meet­ing in or­der to end the suf­fer­ing of the coun­try and the peo­ple,” alSadr said. “Our new al­liance is a na­tion­al­ist one and within the na­tional frames.”

In the years fol­low­ing the U.S.led in­va­sion that top­pled Sad­dam Hus­sein, al-Sadr led mili­ti­a­men who fought Amer­i­can troops. At that time they were backed by Iran, but in re­cent years the cleric has pre­sented him­self as a na­tion­al­ist leader op­posed to Ira­nian in­flu­ence. His main fo­cus has been wag­ing a pub­lic cam­paign against cor­rup­tion.

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