Short on political experience but long on name recognition, State of Law bloc MP Jaafar Mohammed Sadr is finding himself moved increasingly from the backbench of the second largest political bloc in the March election to the odd position of compromise candidate for prime minister.
Sadr’s two claims to fame, it seems, are familial ones. His father is the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadr, an enormously influential Shi’ite religious leader executed in 1980 by the Ba’athist government. His cousin is the de facto leader of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and a religious leader of no small clout himself, the outspoken cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The 40 year old’s name recognition was enough to give him the second largest majority in his party, and thrust him into the position of competing with party leader Nouri al-Maliki, who has made a lot of enemies in his tenure in office.
Sadr hasn’t made any enemies yet, but that may be primarily because he hasn’t done much of anything. A student his whole adult life, Jaafar is just now nearing his bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Anthropology.
But his name resonates with the religious Shi’ites of Iraq, and while they lost some influence to the secularist Allawi bloc they may still retain enough power to install a PM of their own, if they can agree on one.