Shiite Political Differences widen Gap between Najaf, Qom

Meanwhile, instability prevails within the Sadrist movement over becoming associated with either Najaf or Qom. The Sadrist movement is believed to be the product of the fundamentalist Shiite vision that opposes Najaf’s traditional school. As a result, Sadr’s father, Sayyid Muhammad al-Sadr, was involved in a bitter and long struggle with Sistani and other religious authorities in Najaf, which is why Sadr kept Sistani at a distance after the death of his father in 1999. He then became associated with Haeri in Qom, who provided him with a religious cover to form the Mahdi Army in resistance to the US forces.

However, political difference soon drove a wedge between Sadr and Haeri, who abided by the official Iran position to the word, while Sadr wanted to maintain a sense of independence in his positions.

This prompted Sadr to turn to Haidari in August 2013, when Sheikh Mahmoud al-Jayashi, the director of Sadr’s office, was able to arrange a meeting between the two because he was also one of Haidari’s most prominent disciples.

After the meeting was held, Sadr’s office stated, that both sides “discussed the region’s affairs in general and Iraq’s issues in particular,” noting that “the two agreed to coordinate future positions.”

Regardless, the current political disputes between the two are pushing Sadr to reconsider his positions so he does not lose popularity after losing his religious cover.

In a nutshell, all these developments are signs of broad political and religious disagreements that would take over Iraqi society after the death of Sistani, the strongest and most important sponsor of the political process in Iraq after 2003.

(Picture credit: Fabien Khan)

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