As the noose was placed around Saddam Hussein’s neck in December 2006, his masked guards yelled: “Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!”

As in Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who is best known as a one-time — and possibly future — U.S. foe who may have finally outfoxed the Americans, Iranians, and Iraq’s political elite to become the supreme political power in Iraq.

  • Sadr, whose forces fought U.S. troops in 2004, appears to be the big winner in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, according to media reports. Although he did not run for office, his coalition has received far more votes than current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s political block, initial election results show.
  • That means it is entirely possible that Sadr could pick the next Iraqi government by deciding which political party to form a coalition with. Abadi could be out of a job if Sadr, reportedly closer to Saudi Arabia than Iran, allies himself with Iranian proxies, such as Hadi al-Amiri.
  • No word from Washington yet about what Sadr’s fortunes at the ballot box mean for the U.S. relationship with Iraq in the fight against ISIS. “We are awaiting the announcement of the official results and look forward to the formation of the new government,” a State Department official told Task & Purpose on Monday. “We aren’t going to get ahead of that.”
  • A Pentagon spokesman told Eric Pahon that the U.S. government does not support any particular Iraqi candidate or party. “We support a fair and transparent process,” he said. “We stand ready to work with whoever is fairly elected by the Iraqi people.”

Meanwhile, the Iraqi who threw his shoes at President Bush won 4,000 votes in the elections but failed to secure a seat in parliament, the Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau chief tweeted.

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