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Baghdadee بغدادي

DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ الديموقراطيه في العراق

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Members of the session,

I am pleased to have this opportunity of contributing to the debate about the future of democracy in Iraq , where I was born. Let me first introduce my self, a software engineer working for a leading high tech networking company here in the Bay area.. Left Iraq in 1994, I spent last twenty years in Baghdad. Went through the three stages of Baathist regime. i.e. pre Iran war, Iran eight years war and post Iran war.


Some question, in the specific case of Iraq, whether the Iraqi populous is ready for democracy and if democracy would succeed in Iraq.. I submit that it is.

Since the coup of 1958 in which Iraq's nascent political institutions were utterly destroyed to be replaced by the rule of a man/group/party, Iraq has been subjected to different level of tyranny spectrum, from the military figure Kassim of 1958-1963 to the fascism of Saddam Hussein. More particularly, over the past twenty years, Iraqis have paid a mortifying price for the absence of legitimate political institutions: 250,000 killed in the disastrous war with Iran; 200,000 Kurds killed in the Anfal Campaign; 200,000 killed in the Gulf War, first by allied forces, then by Saddam=s thugs; then came the devastation of twelve years of on-going sanctions. The number of Iraq=s dead over this twenty-year period thus approaches one million souls.

Iraqis have learnt the lessons of the consequences of tyranny. When given an opportunity, and with US help, the Kurds of Northern Iraq have re-established political institutions reminiscent of those which predated the coup of 1958. They have, for instance, elected a parliament to legislate in the areas in the northern no-fly zone. Iraq's Kurdish citizens began the daunting task of rebuilding a civil society at the first opportunity they had of doing so without fear of retaliation from Saddam. There is every reason to be sanguine that the rest of Iraq's population yearns equally to build a society based upon the fundamental freedoms we enjoy. This is proven through my personal talk with all different people in Iraq.. They all keep strong commitment to a democratic new system. Indeed, Iraq's opposition groups have recognized this truth; across the political spectrum, from the Iraqi Communist Party to the Psalmists, Iraq's opposition groups have committed themselves to a democratic Iraq after the fall of Saddam and his thugs.

There are other reasons to be optimistic about Iraq's future. Iraq's population is relatively well educated. First, the literacy rate in Iraq is between 85-90%, a figure actually higher than what is in the United States. (I note, in any case, that education is hardly a full match for democracy, as the examples of India and Bangladesh attest). This fact bodes well for a future, civilized discourse and for the rule of law in Iraq. Second, Iraq's intelligentsia largely dispersed in western Diaspora. Its physicians, engineers, scientists, humanists, and thinkers occupy positions at leading academic and commercial institutions the world over. Their contribution to a post-Ba'thist future will be indispensable in aiding a transfer of real democratic conceptions of self-governance to Iraq's polity.

Another reason to be optimistic about Iraq's future involves the high degree of cohesion enjoyed by Iraq's various ethnic and confessional groups. On this issue, we must guard against myths, which the media have begun to peddle. Some highly respected analysts recently observed that Iraq's ethnic and confessional groups are Along-time enemies. While such observations may contribute to an emerging orthodoxy, they are utterly wrong, and completely ignore Iraq's history as a nation over the last eighty years.

I would point out that there is not one instance in Iraq's modern history of, say, a Sunnite village rising to massacre its Shiite inhabitants, or vice versa. The same is true of Iraq's other confessional and ethnic groups, with the exception of the maltreatment of Iraq's Jewish population over the issue of Israel in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Other than that one example, in those instances in which massacres of ethnic or religious groups have taken place, I am noting that guilt has always lain with the central government in Baghdad in exerting its authority over the population in question. Two prime recent examples are Saddam's monstrous chemical attacks in Halabja and other Kurdish areas, and his brutal suppression of the rebels in northern and southern Iraq in 1991. Saddam Hussein knows no tribal, confessional, or ethnic loyalties. He has killed members of his own family at the slightest suspicion of disloyalty. The point is this: When Iraq's central government does not play a malevolent role, Iraq's ethnic and religious groups have maintained a high degree of harmony and accord. Given a non-militarized, democratic government more devoted to development at home and peace with its neighbors, there is every reason to believe that Iraqis will rebuild a pacific, cohesive, pluralistic nation.

Nay-Sayers observe also that one cannot expect an AJeffersonian democracy in Iraq. Perhaps so, but the democracy which Thomas Jefferson helped to engender was not AJeffersonian either. Jefferson, in combination with other Southern aristocrats, owned hundreds of thousands of slaves, and the franchise was limited to white property-owning males. Nor is our own journey toward civil rights and full equality concluded, as the need for laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and other such laws demonstrates. Though all these observation might be based on some legitimate reasoning, we must not sacrifice our idealism and the earnest hopes of Iraq's people because we might fail to achieve perfection in Iraq.

Another myth that some analysts raised is the fear of possibility of a new religious dictatorship in Iraq. I would like to submit that this is another complete fail to that analyst. Surprisingly most of such analysts are same who already were against the war that led to the Iraqi people freedom joy. There is no any one religious main figure within Iraq had even asked for such. From supreme Ayatollah Sistani to the young religious figure Alsader, not mentioning the Iranian base strong political Alyatola Alhakim, all ask only for establishment of legitimate political institutions. The supreme Ayatollah forbid any political slogans during the last week Kerbala's shiet pilgrimage. You may all noticed that all those slogans with political demands where raised on small white paper in a mostly personal well English edited style and easy to hide but to show to the TV cameras.. That is because they were representing their small numbered holders and nothing to do with the massive pilgrims who were enjoying their first time ever freedom after thirty years.

Those who know shie theology know very well that Iranian government style is not a traditional shiet doctorin on the relation between Religious and state. The traditional Shie Ethnay-Ashree believes, as most Iraqi Shie would, that State should not be ruled by the religion. In deed this one of the main issues that Iranian leaders may fear from. A strong restored Najaf shie clergy that would challenge the Iranian leaders claim of Faqeh rule as the case in Iran.


True democracy coupled with the rule of law and the protection of civil rights is what most Iraq wanted. Promotion of these values in Iraq is no less a matter of the national interest than it has been in Eastern Europe in the post-Soviet era. It is time for the wall of despotism to fall, Iraq can lead the way. I believe we must, we will have not only the opportunity but also the responsibility of facilitating the aspirations of Iraq's people for the establishment of legitimate political institutions. If we settle for anything less, we will not only have betrayed Iraq's suffering masses, but our own ideals as well.

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Wow. You helped do away with some of my biggest fears for the future of Iraq as planted by Western media misunderstanding. You make a great deal of sense to me, and hope to most Iraqis as well. I do hope you are representative of the feelings of most Iraqis, because if this is the case, you are guaranteed a bright, peaceful, prosperous and democratic future. The great Iraqi people deserve nothing less than all of this.

Submitted by: Tom Penn [web]

Wednesday, 11.12.2003 @ 5:56 PM

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منتدى الفكر العربي يطرد باحثا عراقيا أشاد بـ«قوات التحرير» الأميركية ـ البريطانية

عمان: سامي محاسنة

شهدت ندوة لـ«منتدى الفكر العربي» في عمان امس مشادة كلامية بين حضور كثيف من المفكرين العرب وباحث عراقي من اصل كردي يدعى حسين سنجاري ادت في النهاية الى طرده من قاعة الندوة.

وكان سنجاري وهو رئيس لاحدى منظمات حقوق الانسان العراقية في المهجر قد قال في مداخلته ان «العراق يعيش الآن بحرية تامة لأن قوات (التحرير) الاميركية والبريطانية قضت على حكم الرئيس السابق صدام حسين».

وطالب سنجاري المفكرين العرب بمناقشة قضايا الاقليات (مثل الاكراد) في الوطن العربي مما اثار بعض الحضور.

ورد الدكتور علي عتيقة الامين السابق للمنتدى والمهندس ليث شبيلات على سنجاري وتحول الرد الى مشادة شارك فيها عدد من الحضور، الامر الذي ادى الى تحرك احد الموظفين، واخرج سنجاري من الندوة، معللا ذلك بانه لم توجه له الدعوة رسميا لحضور اعمال المنتدى.

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Hi there,


Needless to say, I for one am extremely happy at the fall of saddam and his group of thugs..err..."party". hehe. But my elation at his fall, is tempered by fear of what/who is going to replace him. No one wants to see one dictator go down, only to be replaced by another.


Here is what I think: First off, I do not mean to split hairs, but "democracy" pure and simple is mob rule. I doubt this is what you want to Iraq - that would mean replacing the arbitrary rule of one person with the arbitrary rule of a group of people. Democracy is when 6 out of 10 people vote to kill the other 4 because they dont like their haircuts. I doubt this is what you really meant though, but I did want to point that out, because Athenian Democracy (it was first tried in ancient Athens) is certainly not what we want! :)


Moving on then, instead of a democracy, where the highest law of the land is dependant on the mob of the week, the highest law in the land must be put in the form of a constitution - etch it in stone if you have to! But this constitution is what would define the New Iraq - in fact I would even add to it that any change to the constitution actually be a breach of sovereinty. (spelling??)


In the constitution, we would put the following things, including, but not limited to:


1) Freedom of speech. Being allowed to peacefully protest, talk, write, communicate, regardless of political affiliation, or such. Any and all speech must be allowed, except for inticement to violence maybe. But even that is iffy.


2) Freedom of religion. (speaks for itself).


but also very importantly,


3) Freedom to own private property. I cannot stress this enough. A tell-tale sign of an incoming dictatorship is when the government starts to take away your property, like guns for example. A just government has nothing to fear from its populace, whereas one that has ulterior motives for tyranny would try to disarm the polulace, by taking away any form of resistance the populace might use, like guns. (property). Keep Iraqi citizens armed.


4) Presumption of innocence. A person can never be guilty until a fair trial, where he is convicted of being guilty. No arbitrary searches and seizures.


Any Iraqi candidate for office will have to take uphold the constitution - and would swear to it. Of course, there has to be the separation of powers to: Executive, Ligistlative, and Judicial. Even the president's exec powers would be limited. I have seen videos of Iraqi police acting like all three branches - Once they apprehend the suspect, they proceed to beat them up meaninglessly, much to the puzzlement of the alleged suspect. The police must be trained to arrest, protect, and thats pretty much it. They are not jury or judge. They are simply the executive branch of government.



I am not a big fan of nationalising anything in Iraq either. Let private Iraqi citizens be the ones who expand, develop and sell oil, or any other commodity. The minute the government begins to nationlise stuff, its a slippery slope, with no end in sight.


Anyway, I am done venting. :D

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Oh - and I forgot to add - I have noticed whenever any sort of question regarding New Iraq's government comes up, almost everyone starts off with: "Well, the sunnis want this, " "the shias want that" "the kurds will do this" blah blah blah blah.


And why? I do not even know why there is such interest as to how much hair the next leader of Iraq has on his back due to his ethnicity? Why does it matter? This is why the constitution I crudely outlined above should also be color-blind. Your city of origin, ethnic identity and favourite kurdish singer should have nothing to do with how you are to govern the country.


What is there to lament about if we all agree on a p_e_r_s_o_n elected to follow the *constitution*, and do just that?


A color-blind government, with a color blind constitution is what we need - so when you look at some candidate for office, look at his CV, accomplishments, criminal history, and qualifications - not at his sunni-like mustache, or kurdish necklace around his neck.



No to Iraq becoming an affirmative action sharade!

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Islam versus Democracy

By Alan Caruba

Dec 1, 2003, 00:26


The following article has been selected as one of the "Best of MichNews 2003." This article first appeared in the June 20, 2003 edition of MichNews.com.


The United States is now charged by the world to “rebuild” Iraq. In its 5,000-year history, Iraqis have never played any role in the governance of their nation and the past three decades of ruthless and barbaric rule by Saddam Hussein have not prepared them for this task. The United States may get the electricity going in Iraq and repair its water and sewage systems, but whether it can get Iraqis to adopt a constitutionally based democratic government will prove a difficult, if not impossible, task.


Among Muslims, only the Turks have experienced any form of self-rule and that was the result of a remarkable man, Ataturk, who literally forced them to accept westernization. In doing so, he imposed a strict divide between Islam and the governing of Turkey. This has been maintained only because the Turkish military has judiciously stepped in time and again to crush any Islamist party seeking to impose the Islam’s system of rule.


The religion of Islam and democracy are totally incompatible. Only the separation of church and state, only the rule of civil law can grant Muslims—the vast majority of whom are good, decent people---the freedom they want and many Muslims, such as those in Iran, do want it.



Islam versus Democracy

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Free arab


What about the problems with terrorism how would you deal with the attacks that are occuring in iraq everyday.


Also as for democracy in arab world


There are other examples of islamic democracies eg Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan as well as turkey



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Guest Achillea
There are other examples of islamic democracies eg Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan as well as turkey

I don't know much about Indonesia and Malaysia, other than Malaysia is run by a guy who was ranting a few weeks ago about how the Jews rule the world, and that Islamic nations should get more into science in order to develop weapons to destroy them.


In Turkey, the separation between mosque and state is maintained by the army -- which can and has deposed democratically elected leaders to that end. Pakistan, I believe, is currently run by a military officer who was not elected, but took power in a bloodless coup. He keeps promising democratic elections for the position, but none have actually materialized. I don't think those two can really be considered true democracies, though they're not quite military juntas, either.

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مركز أبحاث مصري يشيد بالتحول الديمقراطي في عراق ما بعد صدام

السبت 29/5/2004القاهرة-أكد مركز ابحاث مصري معروف أن العراق شهد تطوراً كبيراً في مجال الديمقراطية وحقوق الانسان منذ اطاحة نظام الرئيس السابق صدام حسين في ابريل (نيسان) من العام الماضي. وقال تقرير اصدره «مركز ابن خلدون للدراسات» الذي يديره الدكتور سعد الدين ابراهيم إن فترة ما بعد الحرب في العراق شهدت تنامياً لعدد منظمات المجتمع المدني في ظل رغبة أعداد كبيرة من فئات الشعب العراقي للمشاركة في الحياة العامة بعد طول مصادرة من قبل النظام السابق وعودة قيادات المعارضة العراقية من الخارج والسماح غير المشروط من قبل قوات التحالف لهذا النوع من النشاط، بل والتشجيع عليه.


تقرير مهم للمعارض المصري الدكتور سعد الدين ابراهيم .


Important report by Egyptian Ibn Khaldoon center.. Run by Dr. Saadaldeen ibrahim. Talking about the progress in Iraq democratic infrastructure during that last year under occupation

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Oh - and I forgot to add - I have noticed whenever any sort of question regarding New Iraq's government comes up, almost everyone starts off with: "Well, the sunnis want this, " "the shias want that" "the kurds will do this" blah blah blah blah.

That is an important point.


Foreign conquerors always try to find the groups that can be turned against each other. If you hate each other more than you hate them, they have an easy time ruling you. Sunni/shi'ite/kurd are the groups that the CIA Factbook lists as important. To the extent that they are right, to the extent that you are loyal to your group and distrust the other groups, they can try to control you that way.


I thought it was interesting that when a letter that was signed (forged?) by Zaraqawi said that sunnis should fight the shi'ites while they fought the americans, and later claimed to have set a bomb that killed shi'ites, al Sadr said it was a fake. I don't know whether he was right about who faked it, but he refused to blame sunnis. So that looks like a very good start.


Still, whoever has enough numbers to be important that you don't trust, is an issue for a democracy. There are procedures to help with the problem, and they tend to cause more problems.


For example, when the USA was first started they invited 13 states to join. Some of them were much bigger than others. Some of them started because of religious intolerance in other states. In a simple democracy the small states would lose, everything would be decided by the big states unless opinion in big states was split so much that voters (or their representatives) in small states became important. So the US Constitution was made to reduce those fears. We had two parliaments, a Senate and a House of Representatives. Delegates to the House each represented roughly the same number of voters. A state that had 5 times as many voters would get 5 times as many representatives to vote for them. So large states got their way in the House. In the Senate every state no matter how small got two senators. And every new law had to pass both parliaments or it failed. So large states could block anything they didn't like, and small states could too. So even today, Rhode Island, a tiny state with very few people, has two senators and 2% of the votes in the Senate.


However, the issue of slavery was harder. They did not have a senate for slave states to block laws that would hurt them. Instead states that had slavery insisted they must somehow get 50% of the votes. Every time a new "free" state was added to the country they insisted there must be a new "slave" state to balance it.And when that precarious balance finally failed, the government collapsed and we had a very bloody civil war.


Similarly in lebanon the christians did not trust a moslem majority, and rather than drive them insane with worry the moslems agreed to delay the census that would show the christians were a minority. They pretended to have 50% of the votes. And finally when the israelis pushed at it a little the system collapsed into civil war.


There must be some way for large minorities to get a veto -- provided they are truly large minorities that truly fear they will be cut out of the democratic process. Do you have minorities like that?


There should be some way for small minorities to feel safer from the majority. If there are enough small minorities they can band together, they all depend on each other. There might be some way they can have a veto. The trouble is that they will demand that you can't ever take away their special abilities, and if the nation is successful then a hundred years later they might not need them at all but they'll still have them.


Still it is safer to give people the right to *stop* things than to give them the right to *start* things.


So, can you afford a completely color-blind government? If so you are better off than if you can't handle that. But if you can't afford it then you must find some way to reassure your minorities that you will not be allowed to abuse them. Not just that you have good will, but that twenty years later when you have been replaced by some young hothead the rules will still get in his way.


If sunni/shi'ite/kurd are not that kind of split, do you have some other split that you need to soothe? Other people who feel they are permanent minorities, who will be usually outvoted by the majority? So much of your population is urban, would the farmers feel left out?

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That was a nice post "guest". I look forward to more dialog on the board as the transition in Iraq is underway.


IMO, it's a tribal decision;

If sunni/shi'ite/kurd are not that kind of split, do you have some other split that you need to soothe? Other people who feel they are permanent minorities, who will be usually outvoted by the majority? So much of your population is urban, would the farmers feel left out?

A tribe (most likely) has both urban and farmer representitives in their rank and file voting block. Is that true ?

Of course, my question is directed for those inside Iraq.


Just the same, the intermediate step is cast in stone for "Sovereign Iraq " to step in and grab the country "By its own bootstraps" sort to speak.


Guess all eyes could be on the Afghanistan vote results later in September as a standard ?

They have to decide alog tribal lines where they intend to take their govt.


I think we in the west need to drop the negative association with the words "tribal positioning" and see the tribes as their own house of representatives.

We in the west expect tribal revenge,not mutual respect will result.

Iraqi's need to proove westerners wrong.

Like it or not, that is how I see the likely direction chosen after January 2005.

Not sure how,or if, those tribal districts would be gerrymandered but without a doubt,it will not reflect the two party system in the United States has evolved into.

We need to accept that as their decision and position ourselves as benovolent observers,out of direct site,tucked away in various isolated no-mans-land locations until requested to downsize by those that have currently stated to the UN our presence is required.


The era of mutual trust is underway.


It could be argued Saddam was a relic of Cold War posturing.


If I may quote a famous slogan used by Ronald Reagan in his dealings during the Cold War with the Soviet Union ;


"Trust,but verify."


Iraqi's are depending on our word as much as we wish to exit as no better friend.

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Guest Mustefser


Thanks refering us to this interesting web site.. I am quoting from same site , the article

Muqtatda vis vis Shia


Muqtada Al-Sadr is the fourth son of Ayatollah Muhammad Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr. The elder Al-Sadr was imprisoned by Saddam Hussein between 1985 and 1992. Then, following the assassination by Saddam of a number of leading Ayatollahs of Iranian origin, Al-Sadr, aided apparently by Saddam himself, became the head of the Hawza in Najaf. Ayatollah Al-Sadr cultivated his relations with the tribes surrounding the city of Najaf and his popularity soared. Suspicious of the Ayatollah's growing power, Saddam's agents ambushed and killed Al-Sadr and two of his four children in 1999 near the Mosque of Ali, one of the holiest Shi'a shrines.


In his sermons, the senior Al-Sadr repeated the slogan "No No to America, No No to Israel." To this day, Al-Sadr's supporters believe that Saddam Hussein was a tool in the hands of America which ordered his assassination. The young Muqtada uses the same slogan in his sermons and he may also believe the allegation about American involvement in the assassination of his father. This may explain his intense hostility towards Americans. [1]


The Al-Sadr family traces its origins to "the House of the Prophet" and is one of the most distinguished families in Iraq. [2] This lineage is no small matter. Indeed, for large segments of the poor Shi'a population, the Al-Sadr name inherited by the young Muqtada may carry far more weight than the scholarship of the Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who is currently considered the most influential Shi'a figure in Iraq.



I used to live in Iraq during the early 90's and had the chance to live with most of the incidents that the writer is talking about . While the writer is trying his best to reflect what had happened from out side, I can tell some lightly different story..


Alsaer Father never had the chance to be nonminated as grand MArjei, It is true that he got a lot of follwers within Iraq , especially among the poor non educated class, but never been considered as the grand marjie of Shia in Najaf.

It might be worth mentioning a story here. that after the mistyrious car crash kill in 1993, of The Gran Ayatolla Alkhuee " The father of the Majeed KHuaee, who was killed in Najaf last year".. And during the process of nominating the next Grand Marjea, The planted Sadamees students in Alhawza were very active to lobby for Alyatoolah Mohamed sadiq Alsader.. Based on the leadership vacume of Shia Iraqi inside Iraq after the 91 uprise crash, Alsader striked a non announced deal with governement of sadam to let him work "more freely" .. The goverment gave him the authirity of issueing student visa residency, a crucial for all those marjeaa to keep their students in Najaf, also keep the security police away from his activities.


Within the Alhawza, that was a great suspecious acts. Though the Sader is a well known opponent to Sadam and been jailed for years at Abo Ghraib, a lot of Iraqi Shia who are followers of the traditional leadership were not feeling confort to this progress.

However, Systani was nominated by Al futhala " Cardinals " commity. dispite the great push by Sadammes, who can't pentrate to this commity easily. The commity is composed of all those second rank scholars in Hawaz, and you migh need tens of years of study and research work before being blessed by some Ayatulla to be considered as legitamit Futhala. Some thing that usuall Sadamee's agents can't survive.


Ayatollah Alsader used that window to expand within the poor and the non well educated. He started to preach the Jumaa prayer in Kufa grat mosque out side Najaf, as grand Marjea not accepted it in najaf. Jumaa prayer is not allowed in Islam under tyrant power controll. That was Alsader's way of rebuilding the shia confidence after 91 crash.. He had succeded in bringing in so many Iraqi Shia .

Late 90's Alsader, for some unknown reason, started to reflux his muscles and started compainging of asking for some political rights.. When the governemnt reflect harshly, he changed his tone to condem USA and Isreal, something considered as a very clever move of condeming Sadaam regim, which was widely considered within Iraqis as a puppit of CIA.


While alsader suceeded within the poor of Kufa, Najaf and Alsader city and some other places in south Iraq, he never succeded within the tribal traditional system in and around Njaf who maintained their respect to the Marjiea of Alsyatani. In Shia Islam, there is no such position as the Catholic Pop, That all should follow one person as leader, any Shia can choose any one or mix of Marajea to respect their opinion and he have all the religious right sto change his Marjea in some or all issues.


Alsader inherited his father political influance not the religiuos one. He is too young to claim any religouse authirity.

Imeadiatly after the fall of Sadam, Alsader party was parctically the only one active inside Iraq.With the support of some Arab anti American media such as Suadi Alrabia satellite TV coverage, the young Moqtada started filling the vacume benifiting from the blockage that the Americans put on SRCI and Dawa parties to enter Iraq.

Alsader choosed to raise anti US slogans that intensified after the nomination of Iraq GC.However, the pro liberation patriot feeling was so strong within Shia population, that many of those Alsader follwers found it difficult to carry on.


By time the vacumme was refilled with all Alsystani, SRCI and Dawa and Alsader started to loose most of his influence with the poor.

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