Will his group re-enter political process?

Muqtada Al-Sadr changes name of political movement

NAJAF – In a notable shift, prominent Shia cleric and political figure Muqtada Al-Sadr introduced the term “The Sadrist National Shiite Current” to describe the gathering of his supporters. This change, sometimes referred to simply as “The National Shiite Current,” is seen as a significant adjustment for the group previously known as the “Sadrist Current,” despite undergoing several name changes over the years.

The alteration in nomenclature emerged through a recent handwritten communication by Al-Sadr, in which he used the phrase “National Shiite,” coinciding with his decision to call off the Al-Sadr religious procession attended by his followers.

This move prompted swift adoption of the new terminology among supporters, with Sadrist bloggers and resigned deputy of the Sadrist bloc, Haider al-Haddad al-Khafaji, discussing its implications.

Al-Khafaji described the decision as indicative of the current’s progression to “an advanced stage of sophistication,” emphasizing its evolution over time. In addressing the name change and the inclusion of the “Shia” identifier, he underscored the group’s historical roots within the Shia religious and political scenes.

“As for being a national current, it is the escape from the bars of imprisonment within the walls of narrow sectarian spaces, which try to exploit the name of Shiism in political profit deals, and declare the current’s comprehensive approach that encompasses all national issues, as it always has been,” added Al-Khafaji.

Despite these developments, it remains unclear whether Al-Sadr’s renaming signifies a willingness to reengage in the political process, which he has abstained from since 2022. However, recent high-profile actions, including a private meeting with Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, suggest a potential reevaluation of his political stance.

In the 2021 parliamentary elections, Al-Sadr’s list secured 73 out of 329 seats, positioning it as the leading faction. However, following the Federal Supreme Court’s imposition of new regulations concerning the majority required to convene Parliament sessions for government formation, Al-Sadr directed his MPs to withdraw from the Parliament. Additionally, he opted to boycott the provincial council elections held last year.