Return of the kingmaker

After four years of self-imposed exile in Iran, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr returns to an Iraqi political scene where his clout has never been greater.
Shiite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr addresses supporters in the southern city of Basra on February 26, 2006, shortly before his self-imposed exile in Iran. (ESSAM AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD - The cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is back in Iraq. The populist Shiite leader has spent four years in self-imposed exile in Iran, and now returns more influential than ever, after his political bloc gave decisive support to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bid for a second term.

Sadr landed at Najaf airport on Wednesday afternoon, according to a senior Sadrist official, and made an evening visit to the shrine of Imam Ali. Footage broadcast on the state-run Iraqiya channel showed Sadr surrounded by hundreds of supporters who shouted his name and jostled to get a glimpse of the religious leader.

This content is for registered users. Please login to continue.
If you are not a registered user, you may purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial.
Iraq Oil Report Attribution Policy

All sources quoted or referenced spoke to Iraq Oil Report directly and exclusively, unless stated otherwise. Iraq Oil Report typically grants anonymity to sources that can't speak without risking their personal safety or job security. We only publish information from anonymous sources that we independently corroborate and are important to core elements of the story. We do not provide anonymity to sources whose purpose is to further personal or political agendas.

Iraq Oil Report Commitment to Independence

Iraq Oil Report strives to provide thoroughly vetted reporting and fair-minded analysis that enables readers to understand the dynamic events of Iraq. To meet this goal, we always seek to gather first-hand information on the ground, verify facts from multiple angles, and solicit input from every stakeholder involved in a given story.

view our independence as an integral piece of our competitive advantage. Whereas many media entities in Iraq are owned or heavily influenced by political parties, Iraq Oil Report is wholly owned by several of its employees. In a landscape that is often polarized and politicized, we are able to gather and corroborate information from an unusually wide array of sources because we can speak with all of them in good faith.

fund this enterprise, Iraq Oil Report depends on revenue from both advertising and subscriptions. Some of our advertisers and subscribers ‐ including companies, governments, and NGOs ‐ are also subjects of our reporting. Consistent with journalistic best practices, Iraq Oil Report maintains a strict firewall that removes business considerations from editorial decision-making. When we are choosing which stories to report and how to write them, our readers always come first.