Shi'ite Leaders In Iraq Form Unexpected, Pro-Iran Political Alliance

Shi'ite Leaders In Iraq Form Unexpected, Pro-Iran Political Alliance

Nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi al-Amiri, who won first and second place respectively in Iraq's May parliamentary election, announced on Tuesday an alliance between their political blocs. As the top two seat-getters in the May 12 election, this would go a long way toward forming a government.

Muktada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shi'ite cleric whose political faction won a surprise victory in national elections last month, has served up another political surprise for the region.

This is more what Sadr has long advocated.

Sadr, a former militia leader who led two uprisings against the US-led invasion of Iraq, has called for his country to be more independent from both Iran and the US.

While Amiri, whose Badr militia played a key role in the two-year war to liberate Iraqi territory captured by the extremist Islamic State group, is a close ally of Iran.

The move announced from the Shia holy city of Najaf is the first serious step towards forming a new government after weeks of negotiations between parties.

"Our meeting was a very positive one".

We met to end the suffering of this nation and of the people.

Al-Sadr's alliance comprising of communists and secular Iraqis has announced it is fiercely opposed to any foreign interference in Iraq - whether Tehran's or Washington's.

The alliance, which together has 101 seats, 64 short of the majority needed to form a government, came hours after Prime Minister Abadi urged politicians to keep negotiating over government formation despite an impending nationwide manual recount of votes.

Abadi called the fire a deliberate act and said the attorney general would bring charges against those who are trying to undermine the political process. "We will set up committees to discuss with all ways to accelerate the drafting of a government program", said Amiri, whose militia fighters played a key role previous year in the defeat of the Islamic State extremist group.

Iraq's May 12 elections, the fourth since the 2003 US -led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, was marred by allegations of fraud and irregularities.

Many of Iraq's longtime political figures - seemingly irremovable since the dictator's fall - were pushed out of their seats by new faces.

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