Confirmed: al-Sadr receives al-Kadhimi in al-Hannana
Shafaq News/ The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, convened with the Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, at his headquarters in al-Hannana, near Najaf, a source revealed on Monday evening.
The source told Shafaq News Agency that the meeting attended by al-Sadr's advisor, Walid al-Karimawi, is being held behind closed doors.
Earlier today, a source informed Shafaq News Agency that al-Kadhimi will discuss an array of issues with al-Sadr during a snap visit to Najaf.
On January 6, al-Kadhimi carried out a lightening, yet mysterious, visit to al-Hannana. Both al-Sadr and al-Kadhimi refrained from making statements after the conclusion of the meeting. Observers believe that incumbent al-Kadhimi is seeking the maverick leader's endorsement for a second consecutive term in office.
Over the past few weeks, al-Hannana has been in the center of the political commute in Iraq. The President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani, along with the Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halboosi and the head of the largest Sunni bloc, al-Siyada, Khamis al-Khanjar, and lately the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, Esmail Qa'ani, have been guests at the headquarters of the Sadrist leader.
The bloc of the firebrand Shiite cleric, already the biggest in the October 10 election, has been mobilizing impetus behind a "National Majority Government", challenging the status quo "consensus governments", the forces of the Shiite Coordination Framework have been lobbying for.
al-Sadr has said he will ally himself with whoever puts Iraq's national interests first. That is an indication that he may exclude some Iran-backed Shiite blocs in favor of parties with cross-sectarian support.
Later, al-Sadr demonstrated a less defiant tone against the Coordination Framework parties but maintained a hardcore position from the head of the State of Law Coalition, Nouri al-Maliki.
"We are proceeding with the formation of the national majority government and our door is open for some of those we still think well of," he said last month, referring to other members of the Coordination Framework.
A source close to al-Hannana said earlier that the Sadrist leader would rather put the "National Majority Government" on hold for another four years than allow al-Maliki to take part in it.
"It is a irrevocable decision," the source said.
"Pressures, from Iran and other influential actors, are being exerted on al-Sadr to form a government that brings together all the political forces, including al-Maliki and his bloc, but he refused. Al-Sadr was adamant about it during his meeting with Qa'ani. He asserted that would rather convert to the opposition than share the cabinet with al-Maliki."
According to sources familiar with al-Sadr's meeting with Qa'ani, the Iranian commander handed al-Sadr a letter from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, urging under him to "maintain the unity of the Shiite home at any costs."
Al-Sadr, according to the sources, responded that he will proceed with the "National Majority Government" with the participation of the Coordination Framework parties, except for al-Maliki, whom Khamenei deems unexpendable.
The long-running dispute between al-Sadr and al-Maliki is one of the main obstacles to any deal that might resolve the situation in Iraq, as the former blames the latter for the endemic corruption and security failure during his two consecutive terms as a Prime Minister. Their enmity dates back to 2008, when al-Maliki launched a military operation against al-Mahdi Army, the disbanded militia formerly led by al-Sadr.