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Muqtada al-Sadr uses street pressure to set political conditions for his rivals

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr vowed that new elections would be held as his followers flocked to a mass prayer in the occupied parts of Baghdad’s Green Zone after 10 months of political deadlock.
Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gather outside the Iraqi parliament in the Green Zone.

BAGHDAD — The heat was suffocating and the crowds were immense, blocking traffic and slowing emergency vehicles to a crawl.

And yet on Aug. 5, thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of supporters of firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continued to make their way to an area of the heavily fortified Green Zone for Friday prayers on parched grass against the backdrop of famous and enormous crossed swords erected to symbolize a previous Iraqi strongman’s power.

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