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Iraq’s rebel democrats

Muqtada al-Sadr's populist Shia rebels, who last year battled with US forces in Najaf, are now deeply involved in politics. They provide a case study of a rebel movement tentatively embracing democracy

By Bartle Bull   June 2005

A momentous but little noticed aspect of the formation of Iraq’s new government in early May was the inclusion of members of the Shia populist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr. The Sadris, as they are called, now hold two of the most important ministries in Iraq—health and transport, as well as the ministry of state for civil society. As al-Sadr’s Mahdi army was the only Shia tendency to rise up against the US-led occupation in Iraq, and has so far been the only Iraqi insurgent movement of any kind to command large and vocal levels of popular support, the fact…

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