Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- The spokesman for the Sadrist movement, Saleh al Obeidi, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Moqtada al-Sadr remains in Syria after arriving in Damascus a few says ago as part of a tour of Arab countries. He also revealed that prior to this, al-Sadr met with Abdulaziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party, in Tehran. This meeting points to the possibility of both parties reaching an agreement and uniting in one [electoral] bloc prior to the forthcoming elections.
Al Obeidi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr will visit a number of Arab countries” although he refused to specify the names of these countries. He also added that “Moqtada [al-Sadr] is currently establishing the relationship of the Sadrist movement with a number of Arab countries.”
Al-Sadr met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, and has been residing in Iran where his followers say that he is currently studying at the [religious] Hawza of Qom to achieve a religious rank of Mufti. Sources close to al-Sadr previously informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he intends to return to Iraq soon.
Al-Obeidi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “a meeting was held previously between Abdulaziz al-Hakim, the leader of the United Iraqi Alliance [coalition] and Sayyid Moqtada [al-Sadr] in Tehran to discuss the ongoing political process in Iraq.”
Differences previously emerged between the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and other members of the United Iraqi Alliance particularly the Sadrist movement, which led to it withdrawing from the Shiite coalition. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party is currently trying to pick up the pieces of this coalition in order to strengthen their chances at the forthcoming legislative electives that are scheduled for January 2010.
A leader in the Sadrist movement, Asmaa al-Mousawi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Sadrist movement is currently engaged in intensive negotiations with the United Iraqi Alliance and other political blocs, we have yet to decide whether we will participate in the next elections as part of a coalition or alone.”
Al-Mousawi also said that “Al-Sadr has emphasized that entering national coalitions away from quotas and sectarianism may result in high-efficiency [for the Sadrist trend] throughout the country. Al-Sadr [also] emphasized Iraq’s Arabism, and its independence.”
He added “the coalition that we join must agree with our political program, for example it must reject US occupation and take political action to remove this [occupation] from the country.”
Al-Mousawi also said that it is not necessary for an alliance to take place prior to the elections, and that there is a possibility that an alliance may be concluded following the elections.
Regarding rumors that an agreement has been reached between the ruling Dawa party and the Sadrist trend to participate in the forthcoming elections on one list, al-Mousawi said “talks are open until now, and there is no serious talk with political forces, particularly the leadership of the United Iraqi Alliance. There are no results [to talks] that can be announced.”
In a separate interview to the German News Agency, Asmaa al-Mousawi said that “in the event of [the Sadrist movement’s] participation in the elections, it is considering brining new figures to the movement…a special committee of the leadership [of the movement] has studied this issue, although our direct participation in the elections has yet to be decided.” The Sadr leadership also renewed calls to “release detainees who are supporters of the Sadrist trend” as well as calls to “bring this issue to the Iraqi judiciary in order for it to be resolved within the framework of Iraqi law.”