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(Nearly) Live from Sadr's Speech

Today, speaking from a podium outside a compound that once was once home to his father, the grand ayatollah who had sacrificed his life defying Saddam Hussein’s brutal dictatorship, Muqtada al-Sadr addressed thousands of loyal followers for the first time since he left Iraq in exile in 2007. His words were considerably more measured than in years back, when he urged violent opposition to America’s troop presence. His brief speech exemplified the maturation of a political juggernaut who is far more disciplined and mature than the radical populist who emerged after the American invasion in 2003.

I’ve compiled some brief quotes from his address that may provide a glimpse of his message.

“Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united…”

“If it serves the people, providing security, safety and services, then we are with this government, not opposed to it…The government is new, and we have to open the way for it to prove it will serve Iraq’s people…”

He repeated that no American troops could remain in Iraq after the end of this year, and urged the assembled to resist the troops’ presence by any means necessary, although violence was not explicitly demanded.

“Resistance, yes, resistance, but not everyone will carry weapons…Only those qualified will carry weapons.”

Lapsing into street Arabic at times, he roused the crowd by asking them “What’s up? Are you scared of the Americans?” before leading them in an enthusiastic response of “down, down America.”

His audience was rapturous, screaming, weeping and responding to his words with shouts of and “all of us are servants of Sayed Muqtada.”



Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.