Iraq’s Sadr Withdraws From Political Process

Threatens to boycott next election to avoid corrupt politicians

Iraqi cleric and influential political leader Moqtada al-Sadr has followed up last weekend’s resignation of all 73 Sadrist MPs by announcing he is withdrawing from the political process.

Sadr says the move is meant to avoid involvement with corrupt politicians, and added that his movement would boycott the next election if those corrupt groups participate.

He didn’t name them directly, but is almost certainly referring to the State of Law bloc, a rival Shi’ite group whose very suggestion of a unity government led him to call for resignations, saying it would betray the campaign’s anti-corruption stance.

This allows Sadr to double-down on the resignations, likely bolstering support from his substantial number of followers. What that would mean if elections are held remains to be seen.

Sadr has in the past pulled out of the political process, sometimes for a fair bit of time. He clearly has a distaste for some of the other political blocs in Iraq, and might feel the time isn’t right for him to push for a new leadership.

It may be that Sadr doesn’t want direct involvement, and that his MPs will form other parties to participate. That said, Sadr has announced election boycotts before only to end up changing his mind and participating after all, so this might just be part of the narrative trying to strengthen his position as Iraq heads into uncertain territory.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.