Moqtada Al-Sadr returns to Iraq
Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr returned to Iraq on Wednesday after having spent years in exile in Iran and after his faction signed an agreement whereby it becomes a member of the new government. According to sources in the Sadrist movement, his return is expected to enhance Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Al-Sadr is known as an anti-American figure and led two uprisings against the US occupation after the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Sadr fled Iraq in 2006 or 2007, after the issuing of an arrest warrant against him by the U.S. occupation. It is believed he had spent the past few years in the Iranian city of Qom.
Sadr bloc has 42 deputies in the Iraqi parliament and eight cabinet portfolios including Planning, Labour and Social Affairs, Housing and Construction, Municipalities and Water Resources, Tourism and Antiquities in addition to the post of first deputy speaker of parliament.
The Sadrist movement has given its backing for the re-nomination of current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.