Monday, January 30, 2006

Ballot-box win boosts Iraqi radical

The Christian Science Monitor

The crowd of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers stretched 10 blocks, blanketing a sprawling boulevard in Sadr City, the Baghdad slum. Loudspeakers rattled as a cleric railed against the US occupation.

Off to the side, Abbas Rubaie, Mr. Sadr's chief political tactician, looked out over the sea of the radical Shiite cleric's supporters who gathered Friday. "The Shiite alliance is the biggest party in parliament and the Sadrists are the biggest bloc in the Shiite alliance," he says. "We cannot be ignored."

When Iraq's election results are certified this week, Sadr is expected to increase his numbers in parliament by 50 percent. That rise will give significant power to the most rigid and anti-US wing of the Shiite bloc, further complicating efforts for the US to maintain influence in Iraq's emerging government.....

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