A report released by Reuters news agency has revealed details of a meeting held in the Iranian city of Qom between the leader of the Sadrist Movement, Moqtada al-Sard, and Iranian officials, a meeting considered as a pivotal turning point in the stance of the cleric on the protests in the country, prompting him to provoke his followers against the protesters.
The meeting focused mainly on convincing al-Sadr to support the Iranian stance, backing the government of Mohammed Allawi, and also to supporting the movements of the pro-Iran-Iraq political blocs by expelling the U.S. troops from Iraq, the report says.
The meeting was held after Iran felt its influence in Iraq has been weakened, following the assassinations of its operations’ leader there, G. Qassem Soleimani, the report points out.
The report also reveals that the promises, which al-Sadr received from Iranian officials, in obtaining sovereign ministries in Allawi’s lineup, and gaining an augmented spiritual leadership role in Iraq; were the key of the real change in al-Sadr stance in terms of opposing the protests and stirring his followers against them, as well as turning to support Allawi.
The report clarifies that the meeting was sponsored by the Lebanese Hezbollah group, under the topic of uniting the factions backed by Iran with those led by al-Sadr, in order to preserve Iranian power in Iraq, especially under the influence of Soleimani’s assassination that created a state of chaos among the militias and affected Moqtada al-Sadr himself, who, according to the report, was also confused.
Meanwhile, the report cited on of al-Sadr assistants under the condition of anonymity, saying that the Iranian attempts getting closer to al-Sadr come from the fact that Iran considers him as the sole guarantor who can prevent the fall of Iranian militias in Iraq amid the ongoing protests. The assistant also cited two semi-military sources as saying that al-Sadr demanded two ministerial bags in Allawi’s government.
Since he returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussain’s regime in 2003, al-Sadr has been known in his fluctuating and shifting stances on many issues, including the U.S. presence, Iranian influence and militias’ arms, as well as his stance towards the ongoing protests. That is why he is described as an opportunist in the report by Reuters.