Muqtada al-Sadr Seeking to become an Ayatollah

Never underestimate this guy. Never. He's not some fanatical bumpkin. He is shrewd, clever, and extremely dangerous.

Soon, he will become even more of a threat to the
peace in Iraq:

The leader of Iraq's biggest Shiite militia movement has quietly resumed seminary studies toward attaining the title of ayatollah — a goal that could make firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army an even more formidable power broker in Iraq.

Mr. Sadr's objectives — described to the Associated Press by close aides — are part of increasingly bitter Shiite-on-Shiite battles for control of Iraq's southern oil fields, the lucrative pilgrim trade to Shiite holy cities and the nation's strategic Persian Gulf outlet. The endgame among Iraq's majority Shiites also means long-term influence over Iraqi political and financial affairs as the Pentagon and its allies look to scale down their military presence in the coming year.

Mr. Sadr's backers remain main players in the showdowns across the region, where fears of even more bloodshed are rising following Wednesday's triple car bombing in one of the area's main urban hubs. At least 25 people were killed and scores wounded. But Mr. Sadr — who was last seen publicly in May — is also confronting the most serious challenges to his influence, which includes sway over a bloc in parliament and a militia force that numbers as many as 60,000 by some estimates.

Becoming an ayatollah — one of the highest Shiite clerical positions — would give the 33-year-old Mr. Sadr an important new voice and aura.
The nominally pro-American cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani despises al-Sadr, considering him an upstart and a tool of Iran. But if al-Sadr succeeds in his desire to become an ayatollah, his popularity will only increase thus marginalizing the older man and making him extremely difficult to control.

Al-Sadr's political party is in shambles (it was never that big to begin with) and his militia had fractured following his flight to Iran earlier this year. But his recent cease fire order to his followers has allowed him time to reestablish control over those loyal to him while sitting back as America does his dirty work for him, going after those Shia terrorists who broke away from his Mahdi Army and went independent. 

That car bombing that occurred on Wednesday is a warning. With the Brits all but gone from the south, the long expected civil war for control of the oil (and to determine how big a say Iran will have in Iraqi affairs) is just warming up. 

The US must find a way to head this off before it erupts into a ruinous conflict. To do that, we need the help of the Iraqi government who so far have seemed powerless in the face of everything al-Sadr has done in the past.

Prime Minister Maliki must find a way to deal with al-Sadr or Iraq will slip back into violence and destruction. 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky
Never underestimate this guy. Never. He's not some fanatical bumpkin. He is shrewd, clever, and extremely dangerous.

Soon, he will become even more of a threat to the
peace in Iraq:

The leader of Iraq's biggest Shiite militia movement has quietly resumed seminary studies toward attaining the title of ayatollah — a goal that could make firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army an even more formidable power broker in Iraq.

Mr. Sadr's objectives — described to the Associated Press by close aides — are part of increasingly bitter Shiite-on-Shiite battles for control of Iraq's southern oil fields, the lucrative pilgrim trade to Shiite holy cities and the nation's strategic Persian Gulf outlet. The endgame among Iraq's majority Shiites also means long-term influence over Iraqi political and financial affairs as the Pentagon and its allies look to scale down their military presence in the coming year.

Mr. Sadr's backers remain main players in the showdowns across the region, where fears of even more bloodshed are rising following Wednesday's triple car bombing in one of the area's main urban hubs. At least 25 people were killed and scores wounded. But Mr. Sadr — who was last seen publicly in May — is also confronting the most serious challenges to his influence, which includes sway over a bloc in parliament and a militia force that numbers as many as 60,000 by some estimates.

Becoming an ayatollah — one of the highest Shiite clerical positions — would give the 33-year-old Mr. Sadr an important new voice and aura.
The nominally pro-American cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani despises al-Sadr, considering him an upstart and a tool of Iran. But if al-Sadr succeeds in his desire to become an ayatollah, his popularity will only increase thus marginalizing the older man and making him extremely difficult to control.

Al-Sadr's political party is in shambles (it was never that big to begin with) and his militia had fractured following his flight to Iran earlier this year. But his recent cease fire order to his followers has allowed him time to reestablish control over those loyal to him while sitting back as America does his dirty work for him, going after those Shia terrorists who broke away from his Mahdi Army and went independent. 

That car bombing that occurred on Wednesday is a warning. With the Brits all but gone from the south, the long expected civil war for control of the oil (and to determine how big a say Iran will have in Iraqi affairs) is just warming up. 

The US must find a way to head this off before it erupts into a ruinous conflict. To do that, we need the help of the Iraqi government who so far have seemed powerless in the face of everything al-Sadr has done in the past.

Prime Minister Maliki must find a way to deal with al-Sadr or Iraq will slip back into violence and destruction. 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky