Maverick cleric’s election upset could rattle U.S.-Iraq relations

Source: The Washington Post

 May 14 

 The surprisingly strong showing of a ticket backed by maverick cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraqi elections over the weekend will force U.S. officials to recalculate how best to pursue American interests in the region at an especially sensitive moment.

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Sadr is a ferocious critic of American policies in the Middle East, and his unexpected electoral haul immediately calls into question the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. But his spokesman said Sadr supports honoring commitments between Iraq and the United States concerning the training of Iraq’s security forces and weapons purchases as long as they serve Iraq’s interests and there “is no interference on the sovereignty of Iraq.”

Sadr’s ticket won the most seats in Iraq’s parliamentary election, according to results from all 18 provinces released Monday, placing him in the best position to select the country’s next prime minister and set the course for how the nation emerges from a costly war against the Islamic State.

His ascendancy comes at the expense of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the preferred candidate of the United States, who came in third.

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