Sadrist bloc MP Ahmed Masoudi says that Moqtada Sadr will soon be on his way back to Iraq. Masoudi made somewhat contradicting statements about the purpose of Moqtada’s return. First he said that his return “does not necessarily mean preparing for the upcoming general elections or rebuilding [political] coalitions”. Masoudi however added that Sadr “is coming back to build a nationalist political program”. According to Masoudi, Moqtada is expected to show up in Ramadan; that’s two weeks from now.
As of now, the Sadrists are still considered a swing-bloc so to speak. They have had very turbulent, and at times bloody, relations with their former allies in the last two years; particularly with the ISCI and Maliki. It is elections season though, and all parties are trying to be better prepared by attracting allies.
It is not easy to predict where the Sadrists are going as they have deep differences with both ISCI and Maliki’s Da’awa Party. Sadrists try to represent the nationalist proletariats. ISCI on the other hand is more of an elitist organization that is keen on establishing a loose federal system. The two are close only in terms of their Shiite Islamist background and their relations with Iran. Maliki and his Da’aw Party have adopted a more nationalist agenda, so that’s one thing they ostensibly have in common with the Sadrists. However, Maliki has largely diluted his Shiite Islamist identity, which could be a problem for the Sadrists. Above all, it would be very interesting if the two managed to put their history of fighting behind their backs.
Another big question is; how much weight will the Sadrists have in the upcoming elections? Moqtada is certainly less powerful today than he was in 2005-2006, but how much influence he could still have is not easily measurable right now. Anyway, we should have more input to analyze in just two weeks.