London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Hezbollah has denied any knowledge that leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr might settle permanently in Lebanon. A Hezbollah source told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr or any of his close associates have not informed the Hezbollah leadership of his intention to move to Lebanon.”
A Lebanese Foreign Ministry source also has affirmed, “The Foreign Ministry has not received any notice in this respect, neither from the Iraqi authorities nor from Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, at least until now.”
A leader in the Iraqi National Coalition had revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran is exerting “increasing pressures” on the leaders of the National Coalition, Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada Al-Sadr, and that the latter threatened that he might have to leave Iran and settle in Lebanon because of these pressures.
Meanwhile, Nassar al-Rubaie, a Sadrist movement leader, has affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Sadr’s departure from Iran was “up to him personally,” adding, “We have no news that he might settle in Lebanon, but his return to Iraq is a natural matter and more feasible.”
According to informed sources, Al-Sadr is currently in the “external research” stage in his studies to obtain the Ijtihad level under Iraqi Religious Authority Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hashimi. The external research stage is the final stage in the studies at the Shiite seminary. The student submits his research to the religious authority, who in turn, goes over the research carefully, and when the religious authority is satisfied with the work, he grants the student the level of Ijtihad.
Regarding the Iranian pressures on Al-Sadr to support the candidacy of Al-Maliki for a second term, the sources affirmed, “There is much pressure from two high-level Iranian sources on Al-Sadr. The first is the Iranian Government and the second from the Qom religious authorities. They are pressuring him to accept the candidacy of Al-Maliki. But Al-Sadr has strongly rejected these pressures, because he thinks that the decision should be made by the Iraqis and that all the Iraqi forces have agreed not to support Al-Maliki’s candidacy for a second term.” But the sources explained, “Iranian pressures on Al-Sadr could force him to leave Iran.” The sources revealed, “Religious Authority Sayyid Kazim al-Hairi [Iraqi Shiite leader living in Iran] visited Al-Sadr several weeks ago to learn the reasons for his objection to Al-Maliki’s candidacy for a second term,” and that Al-Ha’iri “could not convince Al-Sadr to accept Al-Maliki’s candidacy.”
It should be noted that Al-Hairi became a source of emulation to the followers of the Sadrist movement after the departure of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr.