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A balancing act: The Sadrist movement between nationalist rhetoric and sectarian politics

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After the US surge in 2007, the Sadrists were at crossroads. The Mahdi Army’s proclivity for violence had been discrediting Sadr’s movement and was increasingly allienating its own constituency. Therefore, they started to refocus on politics. Generally, the Sadrist behaviour after 2009 can be defined as ‘electoral militarism’, a symbolic extension of the conflict as an electoral strategy. While the leadership has to compromise with Iran and support sectarian politics, they at the same time jealously protect the movement’s nationalist outlook, using a rhetoric focused on national unity and emphasizing the movement’s independence. This dualism between rhetoric and action is the most basic contradiction in the Sadrist movement today – and in Iraq in general.
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Keywords: Sadrist movement; de-Ba’athification; national elections 2010; national unity; nationalism; sectarianism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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