The fiery Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army battled American troops and incited sectarian violence in Iraq from 2004-08, has returned home after four years in Iran.
And his rhetoric against the U.S. military is as belligerent as ever.
“We are still resisters, and we are still resisting the occupier militarily and culturally and by all the means of resistance. Repeat after me: No, no for the occupier. Let’s have all the world hear that Iraqi people reject the occupier,” he shouted to an energized crowd of 20,000 supporters in Najaf last week.
Though the Mahdi Army’s resistance was mostly snuffed out by Iraqi and U.S. forces after Sadr took off, keeping security may become an even bigger concern for the rebuilding country since Sadr’s return, especially since the U.S. military is about a third of its 2007 size.
Nonetheless, expect Sadr’s scathing view of Americans to remain in Iraqi politics. Forty Sadrists sit in Iraq’s 325-seat parliament.
Read more about Iraq’s security situation here.