FILE - In this March 27, 2016 file photo, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gives a speech to his followers before entering the highly fortified Green Zone, in Baghdad, Iraq. Al-Sadr, the influential maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran’s favored candidates to come in first in national elections, says he wants to form a government that puts Iraqis first.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

May 20, 2018 - 3:10 am

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's favored candidates to come in first in national elections, says he wants to form a government that puts Iraqis first.

The electoral commission announced early Saturday that the militant-turned-populist preacher, who has long spoken out against both Iranian and U.S. influence in Iraq, had defeated his establishment rivals.

Al-Sadr — who is remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion — did not run for a seat himself and is unlikely to become prime minister, but will command a significant number of seats and has already begun informal talks about government formation.

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