Sadr Group Leaves Iraq's Ruling Alliance

Popular anti-American cleric says government ignores his demands
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2007 3:05 PM CDT
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left, steps from an office building in Najaf, Iraq Saturday June 5, 2004. Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia leader is turning to his commanders who distinguished themselves...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A key faction pulled out of Iraq’s ruling Shia alliance today, leaving Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with only half of parliament’s seats. Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says he withdrew because his bloc’s demands were being ignored. He wants a timetable for US troop withdrawal and opposes former members of Saddam Hussein's regime being in the new administration.

Some analysts say that Sadr pulled out in order to rein in his fragmented army. The BBC reports that the move may also destabilize Maliki, although other factions could keep him in control for now. But Sadr isn't Maliki's only political problem du jour: the White House blamed his government yesterday for not enacting laws to reunite Sunni and Shia Arabs.