January 10, 2011
Reporting from Baghdad —
Even as supporters of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr rejoiced at his return to Iraq, some in the country’s Shiite Muslim majority population expressed alarm Sunday about the implications of his homecoming.
In Baghdad and the southern provinces of Basra and Maysan, the news gave deep pause to some Shiite Iraqis, mindful of Iraq’s history since 2003 and wondering whether Sadr would once more spark violent confrontations, or whether he had in fact truly evolved.
Sadr came home last week from Iran, where he had gone in 2007 after his Mahdi Army militia had engaged in years of fighting with American troops and had been blamed for some of Iraq’s worst sectarian violence. His supporters won 40 seats in the Iraqi parliament last year, allowing him to play a decisive role in Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s return to power after a lengthy period of political deadlock.