>> He's the only Iraqi Shiite leader to have challenged both the United States and Iran, and that appears to have paid off for Muqtada al-Sadr. The nationalist cleric's Sairoon Alliance has all but won Iraq's election. In a country where millions of poor Shiite's feel they have not benefited from the governments close ties to Washington or Tehran.
The Sairoon Alliance is a pure Iraqi alliance which doesn't affiliate to any foreign party, nor being supported from abroad. This is the trait that distinguishes from other alliances in Iraq. It's a surprise victory over incumbent Prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, a rare ally of both the US and Iran and the Tehran backed Hadi Al-Ameri.
It was achieved through forming an alliance with communist and other independent secular supporters, and by reaching out to dispossessed Iraqis. Many of them fear, in the wake of Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, that their country could turn into a theatre of conflict between the US and Iran.
And Sadr's success is unlikely to go down well with either of those powers. In February, the top advisor to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran would stop Sadr and his bloc gaining power. Saying quote, we will not allow liberals and Communists to govern Iraq. In Washington, Sadr has long been viewed as an unpredictable maverick.
He led two uprisings against US troops after the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein turned into an occupation. What our mission is will be the destruction of Sadr's militia, and then is to kill or capture Al-Sadr himself. Sadr derives much of his authority from his father, the revered Grand Ayatollah Sadeq al-Sadr, who was killed for defying Saddam.
Sadr will not become Prime Minister, as he did not run in the election himself. But his almost certain victory puts him in a position to pick someone for the job.