Sadr continues populist moves in Iraq

Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shia political and military leader in Iraq, continues to loudly criticize the US presence in Iraq. With negotiations regarding the US troop levels past 2008 being negotiated, Sadr is calling for the issue to be put to national referendum. Any national vote on the American presence would almost certainly result in a sweeping repudiation of the continued role in Iraq, and Sadr knows it. He also knows that it will never go to a vote, so he can earn increased popular credibility without having to take on any blame for a military transition. CNN reports,

An agreement between the United States and Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain operating in Iraq past 2008 should be put to a popular referendum, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged in an online message to his followers.

The message also calls for weekly protests against the agreement, being negotiated by the two governments.

The debate is weirdly academic simply because the post-2008 American role will be determined by the new president, not by the current administration. Still, some important elements are being negotiated, and as always, political leaders are looking for the angles.

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