After Latest Turn, is Muqtada al-Sadr Losing Influence in Iraq?
The populist cleric has repositioned himself in Iraqi politics multiple times, but his recent shift against youth-led protestors may signal his decline as an autonomous political force.
Following the US strike on Qassem Solaimani and Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has violently cracked down on youth-led protests in Iraq.
His paramilitaries and ‘blue hats’ – supposedly created to protect protestors from state and allied parastatal security forces – sought to end the months-long demonstrations by attacking the places where protesters have camped since October. In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, they successfully captured the famous Turkish restaurant which had become a symbol of Iraq’s ‘October revolution’.