Tensions remain high between the different factions of Iraq's Shia majority

More than 300 people were killed and 500 injured in last week's violence between the Iraqi government and the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the country's most powerful religious and political leaders. While Iraqis are hoping for calm in Baghdad and Basra after Sadr declared a ceasefire over the weekend, tensions remain high between the different factions of Iraq's Shia majority.

But who is Muqtada al-Sadr, and what role does he play in Iraq? Is the country on the verge of a new civil war?

On Monday Riz speaks with two people with firsthand knowledge of the situation in Iraq. Patrick Cockburn is the Iraq correspondent for the UK-based Independent. He is the author of the newly released book, Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival and the Struggle for Iraq.

And Laith Kubba was the Iraqi government spokesman and a senior advisor to Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the former Iraqi prime minister, throughout 2005. He is currently the director for the Middle East and North Africa at the US government's National Endowment of Democracy.

Watch part one of this episode of Riz Khan on YouTube

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This episode of Riz Khan aired on Monday, March 31, 2008

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