Ahead of Obama’s Iraq speech, Kelley Vlahos looks at what one of the country’s leading clerics has been up to while out of the media glare:
Muqtada al Sadr, once dismissed by Washington neoconservatives as a desperate, washed-up five-cent firebrand, is now an Iranian-supported kingmaker who will not only help determine the next government and prime minister, but has threatened to activate the armed wing of his low-lying Mahdi Army, the Promised Day Brigade, if the American “occupier” doesn’t pack up and leave entirely.
The “Promised Day Brigade” will “prepare quietly to launch qualitative attacks against the occupiers (U.S. forces) if they stay beyond 2011,” said Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi, to the Associated Press, in May. “It will have a big role to play to drive them out of Iraq.”
Read on to find out just how al-Sadr might complicate the nice, neat narrative Barack Obama tries to weave tonight.