One month after declaring the storming of Iraq’s parliament as a “Muharram revolution,” Muqtada Al-Sadr’s unnerved televised press conference on Aug. 30—following a day of unprecedented intra-Shiite violence—culminated in the full withdrawal of his supporters and armed groups from Baghdad’s Green Zone. Throughout this latest episode in the standoff following Iraq’s Oct. 2021 parliamentary polls, Sadr’s mercurial demeanour has confounded observers about what his endgame might be. But through a close reading of his statements and those of his surrogates since the elections, a coherent picture emerges of how Sadr likely thought his “revolution” gambit could pay off and shift the balance of power in his favor.
Winning seats, losing votes
Between the first Sadrist incursion into the Green Zone on July 27 and his press conference on Aug. 30, Sadr issued 15 written statements, while his anonymous online surrogate known as Salih Mohammad Al-Iraqi published some 40 statements. Through these pronouncements, Sadr not only mobilized his loyal base of supporters, but more importantly, sought to speak to broader segments of the political spectrum that he thought could be galvanized to join and give legitimacy to his actions...
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