On February 2014 Muqtada al-Sadr announced his decision to detach himself from politics and to focus on his religious duties as well as on the important network of charities and institutes he presides. The news shocked the whole Iraqi political spectrum: while the Shiite leader is not new to this coup de théâtre, this time his move seems to carry much deeper political implications. Just a few weeks separate the country from its fourth round of political elections and the competition for control of the Iraqi political arena promises to be tough as never before. Al-Ahrar’s good results in the 2013 provincial elections and the significant support the Sadrist movement can count on especially among the Shia urban underclass poise it to play a prominent role in the April 2014 voting. Al-Sadr’s declarations questioned these predictions but did not eliminate his influence over the Iraqi socio-political spectrum.
This report aims to analyse the origins and the main features of the Sadrist trend, underlining the importance of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr’s legacy for its ascendance in the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and its evolution since 2003. The last part of the analysis will focus on the reasons which could have pushed Muqtada al-Sadr to limit his political activities and the consequences this decision may have on his movement and the whole Iraqi system.
Andrea Plebani is ISPI Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Catholic University of the Sacred Hearth. The author would like to thank Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center for its support.