Inside Story

The return of Muqtada al-Sadr?

As Iraq slips into greater uncertainty, Shia cleric and leader al Sadr puts on a show of strength.

Fighters belonging to the group,the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are making territorial gains in Iraq, pushing the army further from cities and towns across the north and west. But as the army is pushed, others are threatening to join the fight.

On Saturday, thousands of supporters of the influential Shia cleric, Muqtada al Sadr, marched in Baghdad and in other parts of Iraq. Their message was clear: we can deal with the ISIL ourselves.

The marches mark what many see as a comeback for Sadr, who in February announced he was pulling out of politics and ending his alliance with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. 

Sadr had under his command thousands of fighters, known as the Mahdi Army. The group fought the Americans during their occupation of Iraq. The Mahdi Army was officially disbanded in 2008. 

But what will Sadr’s return mean? Is he after a political role in Iraq now? And how is that viewed by the embattled prime minister?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Sabah al Mukhtar, president of the Arab Lawyers Association.

Kamel Wazne, founder of the Center of American Strategic Studies in Beirut, a think-tank that covers regional issues. 

Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran.