ISW Releases Latest Iraq Report: Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Jared Young
January 15, 2009

Report finds new evidence linking Iranian-backed Special Groups to the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) terrorist network.

WASHINGTON DC- The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) today released the latest issue in its Iraq Report series. Iraq Report 12: The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement, written by ISW Research Manager Marisa Cochrane, explains the causes of the Sadrist Movement's fade from prominence and how the Sadrists are likely to fare in Iraq’s upcoming provincial elections. The report also offers new evidence that links Iranian-backed Special Groups with the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) terrorist network, led by formerly close associates of Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraq Report 12: The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement can be found at:

Key Findings from Iraq Report 12: The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement

Ø The Sadrist Movement has steadily fragmented as a result of the Surge, competition among internal factions, and Prime Minister Maliki’s consolidation of power.

Ø While the political and military power of the movement has declined, its traditional constituency of the urban Shi'a poor and rural Shi'a tribes-remains a large and politically-valuable electorate.

Ø Two main factions within the movement now compete for control of this constituency: the clerics and politicians (including al-Sadr) who emphasize a return to social, religious and educational programs; and an armed movement, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which seeks to continue resistance against Coalition Forces. Both groups seek to participate in the political process.

Ø If Maliki succeeds in building a Parliamentary coalition with leaders from either Sadrist faction, he will most likely cement his hold on power in the 2009 elections and dramatically reshape the political environment in Iraq.

Cochrane holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies from Boston College, where she held a Presidential Scholarship and won the prestigious McCarthy Award for her scholarship in the Social Sciences. She has also studied at the London School of Economics and is currently studying Arabic. Cochrane will serve in Iraq as the Command Historian for General Odierno and Multi-National Force - Iraq from late January through March, 2009. Her research at ISW focuses on Shi'a political movements and militia groups. She is also the author Iraq Reports 9 and 11, The Battle for Basra and Special Groups Regenerate.

ISW is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution whose goal is to educate current and future decision makers and thereby enhance the quality of policy debates. The Institute's work is addressed to government officials and legislators, teachers and students, business executives, professionals, journalists, and all citizens interested in a serious understanding of war and government policy.