Who is Moktadr?

In the bootleg cellphone videos of Saddam’s execution you can hear someone chanting “Moktadr, Moktadr.” The reference is to Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr, sometimes spelled Muqtada, Muktada or Moktada.

In an opinion piece for the Jordan Times titled ” The rise and fall of Sadam Hussein”, Michael Jansen attributes the quick execution of Saddam Hussein to pressure from Moktadr.

I suspect we will be hearing a lot more about Moktadr Al Sadr in the next few weeks.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki also needed a boost with the Shiite public which has been losing faith in him because he has been unable to quell the sectarian violence gripping the country’s capital or restore electricity and other services. Maliki has also become increasingly dependent on the movement of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr who was determined to execute Saddam at the earliest possible moment and conditioned the return of his 32 legislators to parliament and his six ministers to their offices on this event.

They began a boycott of the government after Maliki met Bush in Amman in November. By putting immediate-term petty political priorities ahead of the long-term interests of Iraq and the Iraqis, Bush and Maliki have done serious damage to the prospect of Sunni-Shiite coexistence.

Even in Saddam’s brutal Iraq, executions were banned on religious holidays. Killing him on the Eid guarantees that he will be regarded by many Sunni Arabs and Muslims as a “sacrifice” and “martyr” to the cause of Arab and Muslim freedom and independence. He must have been pleased to die on this day. It was a day suitable for the death of an Arab hero and Saddam was a man who modelled his reign on the careers of heroes of Mesopotamian and Islamic history.

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