Tell me nobody is surprised at this problem:
On Feb. 28, hundreds of pro-Sadrist university students in Kut attacked Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's procession with stones and water bottles. Abadi's security forces fired tear gas and live bullets at the protesters, injuring three. Subsequently, Sadrist leader Muqtada al-Sadr apologized to Abadi for the breaches. Though he called on his followers to stop the protests in Kut until further notice, he accused former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of being behind the breaches to try to distort the Sadrist movement's image.
The incident reflects the intense competition among Iraq's Shiite leaders. There are currently three main Shiite figures competing for power: head of the Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim, head of the State of Law Coalition Maliki, and Sadr himself. Each has his own plan to remain in power and remove the others or limit their influence.
Sadr is dangerous.
He is one path for Iran to control Iraq, which is a real threat we must defeat:
The U.S. is not happy with how Iraq has quietly disbanded the “Iran Section” in the Iraqi equivalent of the CIA. This organization was set up after 2004 with $3 billion in American cash and CIA trainers and advisors. Since the American troops left in 2011 Iran has pressured Iraqi officials to shut down the Iran Section and in early 2017 that was quietly done as the last few hundred personnel assigned to the Iran Section were fired or transferred. This has many Iraqis worried. While about 60 percent of Iraqis are Shia most of them do not want Iraq dominated by Iran. The security forces are now dominated by Shia but many of those generals do not want any of the 80-100,000 or so Iran backed Shia militia fighters involved in retaking Mosul. The Iraqi Shia that control the Iraqi government and military do not trust Iran and believe the Iran controlled Shia militias are being prepared to support an armed takeover of the current Shia controlled government. Many of the Shia militia are from Baghdad and there are growing fears that Shia cleric Ayatollah Muqtada al Sadr, an open fan of the Shia religious dictatorship in Iran, is planning to use his anti-corruption campaign in Baghdad as justification for an armed takeover of the government.
I've warned about Sadr again and again, given his violence and ties to Iran.
Indeed, I've warned about Sadr since summer 2004 (and enjoy the primitive nature of my pre-Blogger site. I shudder ...).
Why we or our Iraqi allies let him live is beyond me.
UPDATE: Eric at Learning Curve corrects me via email that the policies go back to Bush 41 following the Persian Gulf War.
I knew we hoped that in the aftermath of his crushing military defeat in the 1991 war that someone would overthrow Saddam, but I either forgot or did not know that the Clinton-era legislation traced roots a bit earlier. Thanks!