Currently it seems that all the violence in Iraq not committed by Sunni insurgents is committed by Muqtada’s Mahdi Army. The label “Shiite militias” has become a catch-all that is too often equated without question to Muqtada’s followers. His followers are dedicated to him for two main reasons, the first is an alliance they feel to him as heir to his incredibly popular father, Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr, who is believed to have been assassinated on Saddam Hussein’s order in 1999. The second reason is that Muqtada utilized the resources of the Sadr Movement’s, as it was called under his father, to create stability and provide services to poor Iraqis when Baghdad’s infrastructure collapsed in 2003.
Today, although the Mahdi Army has been involved in controversial actions, kidnappings, killings, and other acts, the Sadr Movement claims it is purging its membership, and taking responsibility for its past.
The Sadr Movement is more than just the Mahdi Army. They provided aid and security in 2003 when none existed, and even worked to stop looting and return stolen goods to their rightful owners. Today they still provide security and medical aid to needy Iraqis, even locating an office in neighboring Damascus. Alive in Baghdad spoke with the Sheikh who directs the Damascus office, and other Iraqis connected to the movement.
This episode was produced by Hayder Fahad, one of our new correspondents. We have new expenses given our expanded team. Please consider making a donation to continue Alive in Baghdad’s work.