Who is the Antichrist who ordered protesters to breach Iraqi parliament?

Explained: Who is Muqtada al-Sadr, cleric who ordered protesters to breach Iraqi parliament?

An Iraqi Shia scholar, militia leader and the founder of the most powerful political faction in the country right now, Muqtada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein government.

Explained Desk

The Iraqi parliament Wednesday was stormed by hundreds of protesters chanting anti-Iranian slogans. The demonstration was against the announcement of the prime ministerial nominee, Mohammed al-Sudani, selected by the Coordination Framework bloc, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shiite parties and their allies.

The majority of the protesters, who breached Baghdad’s Parliament, were followers of influential populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr, a shia himself, is fighting against former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s plans to reinstate his Iran-affiliated leaders at the elite posts in the government.Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against corruption inside the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq July 27, 2022. (Reuters Photo: Thaier Al-Sudani)

So, who is Muqtada al-Sadr, the founder of the Sadrist movement and the master of mass mobilisation in the current Iraqi political system?

Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist movement

An Iraqi Shia scholar, militia leader and the founder of the most powerful political faction in the country right now, Muqtada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein government.

In the recent incident, after his followers occupied parliament, al-Sadr put out a statement on Twitter telling them their message had been received, and “to return safely to your homes”. After which, the protesters began to move out of the Parliament building with the help of security forces. His ability to mobilise and control his large grassroot followers gives him a strong advantage over his political rivals.

Back in 2016, in a similar manner, al-Sadr’s followers stormed the Green Zone and entered the country’s Parliament building demanding political reform. The US worries Iranian dominance in the country because its influence can alienate the Sunni communities. Although al-Sadr right now looks like the only viable option to have in power in Iraq for the US, back in the day, he was enemy number one after the fall of Saddam.

Back in 2004, The Guardian quoted Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez saying, “The mission of US forces is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr.” The Sadrist and the affiliated militia (Mahdi army) started a resistance against the US troops following the country’s invasion in 2003. These militias under al-Sadr are now called the “peace companies”.

However, the growing influence of al-Sadr could cause problems for both the US and Iran. He has demanded for the departure of the remaining American troops and has told the Iranian theocracy that he will “not let his country go in its grip”.

The Sadrist movement, which is at its strongest right now in Iraq, was founded by al-Sadr. A nationalist movement by origin, the Sadrist draws support from the poor people of the Shiite community across the country.

News agency Reuters in a report claimed that over the past two years, members of the Sadrist Movement have taken senior jobs within the interior, defence and communications ministries. They have had their picks appointed to state oil, electricity and transport bodies, to state-owned banks and even to Iraq’s central bank, according to more than a dozen government officials and lawmakers.

Iraq’s political turmoil

Iraq has been unable to form a new government nearly 10 months after the last elections, this is the longest period the political order has been in tatters since the US invasion. The deadlock at the centre of Iraqi politics is largely driven by personal vendettas of elites. The storming of the Parliament Wednesday was just a message to al-Sadr’s opponents that he cannot be ignored while trying to form a new government.

The fight, majorly between the Shia leaders al-Sadr and al-Maliki, is due to the nationalist agenda. Al-Sadr, challenges Iranians authority over Iraq while the former PM derives great help from the country.

Having great religious influence, al-Sadr’s alliance won the most seats in October’s Parliamentary election, but political parties failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pick a president. After the negotiations to form the new government fell apart, al-Sadr withdrew his bloc from Parliament and announced he was exiting further talks. Expectations of street protests have prevailed in Baghdad since he quit the talks.Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr chant slogans during an open-air Friday prayers in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, July 15, 2022. (AP/PTI Photo)

On the other hand, Al-Maliki, al-Sadr’s arch rival heads the Coordination Framework alliance, a group led by Shiite Iran-backed parties. With al-Sadr’s withdrawal, the Framework replaced his resigned MPs from the Iraqi Parliament. Although the move was within the law, it was also provocative, and provided the Framework with the majority needed in Parliament.

Iraq’s former labour and social affairs minister, Mohammed al-Sudani’s announcement as the PM nominee, is seen by al-Sadr loyalists as a figure through whom al-Maliki can exert control. The former PM Al-Maliki wanted the premiership for himself, but audio recordings were leaked in which he purportedly was heard cursing and criticising al-Sadr and even his own Shiite allies.

At the moment, neither the al-Sadr nor the al-Maliki factions can afford to be cut-off from the political process, because both have much to lose. Both the rivals have civil servants installed in Iraq’s institutions, deployed to do their bidding when circumstances require by halting decision-making and creating bureaucratic obstructions.

Iran’s role

The Islamic Republic of Iran shares a 1,599 km-long border with Iraq, which provides the former with a clear added advantage over the war-torn country. After the fall of Hussein, the border helped Iran to send militias to take power and resist the US forces, as the result right now, the country’s top ruling elite are Shiites, fighting among themselves for power.

Iran currently is trying to work behind the scenes, just like Lebanon, to stitch together a fragmented Shiite Muslim elite. The nomination of al-Sudani is evidence of Iranian efforts to bring together the Shiite parties in the alliance. However, the electoral failure of the Iranian-backed parties in the recent elections has marked a dramatic turnaround.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Esmail Ghaani, commander of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, has made numerous trips to Baghdad in recent months. The Quds Force is a part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Working on the already established network of his predecessor, Qasem Soleimani, Ghanni is trying to help the parties in Iraq to stay united and agree on a PM candidate.

Who is the Antichrist, the Religious Cleric Who Won Iraq’s Election Recount?

Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Religious Cleric Who Won Iraq’s Election Recount?
The popular figurehead stormed the election back in May on a fiercely anti-corruption platform, while pledging to rid Iraq of unwanted foreign – particularly US – interference.
The manual recount of votes cast in Iraq’s election held in May is now complete, with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance holding on to all of the 54 seats that it initially won.
Iraq’s Independent High Commission released the results of the recount in the early hours of Friday, confirming that Sadr’s ‘Sairoon alliance’ has indeed snatched the popular vote.

© AP Photo / Karim Kadim
Now that the Sairoon alliance — a concoction of religious nationalists and secular communists —  has been confirmed as victorious, it is set to enter strenuous negotiations with members of parliament on the sufficient conditions for forming a new government. This comes nearly three months after national elections were held on May 12.
The manual recount was demanded by Iraq’s parliament, and amongst swathes of the population, following widespread allegations of voter fraud, which ruptured the country’s trust in the integrity of the electoral process. The May poll deployed a new electronic system for calculating votes cast, rather than by manual count, which some argue primed the system for vote-rigging.
Despite the manual recount, Baghdad’s incumbent Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, blasted the results, and asserted that there had been “unprecedented breaches” of the first election, rendering the recount null and void.
Abadi’s dismissal notwithstanding, the United Nations threw its weight behind the recount, hailing it is “credible,” and noting that it had been “conducted in a manner that is credible, professional and transparent.”
Despite the continued celebration amongst Western powers of Iraq’s post-2003 transition to democracy, many Iraqis remain weary and mistrusting of the country’s political class, with only 44.5 percent turning out for the election in May.
Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr? 
Mr Sadr was sanctioned as public enemy number one by Washington following the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The Shiite strongman, who doubles up as a religious cleric outside of his political life, led a band of militiamen throughout the early days of the country’s occupation, called the ‘Mahdi Army,’ who attempted to vanquish coalition forces through armed force, causing many fatalities amongst Western soldiers.
Despite the best efforts of the Iraqi and US armies, Sadr and his men — who came to epitomize the post-invasion insurgency — continued to control large parts of Baghdad, most notably the so-called ‘Sadr city’ district, almost unhindered.
The cleric turned militia leader was such a thorn in the side of coalition forces, that by the year 2006 Newsweek had plastered his image on their front page, branding him “the most dangerous man in Iraq.”
Sadr still remains an unremitting critic of the US military presence in his country — which currently numbers at nearly 8,000 personnel — and the US-backed central government in Baghdad. According to scholars of the Middle East, much of Sadr’s legitimacy is derived from cocktail of nationalism and religiosity, which has made him a credible leadership figure, particularly in the eyes of Iraq’s poor, to whom he has promised the complete removal of US influence in Baghdad.
Sadr is also notorious for his staunch opposition to the corruption that has plagued Baghdad’s central government since 2003. Most famously, he and his supporters staged a 2016 sit-in within Baghdad’s fortified ‘Green Zone’ — the centre of government established after the 2003 invasion — demanding greater government accountability. Eventually, Prime Minister Abadi was forced to reorganise his cabinet in what was perceived as an unprecedented act of appeasement.
Sadr will now set out to begin negotiating the formation of a new government with his former political rivals, including Iran-backed militia chief Hadi Al-Amiri, who came in second place in the parliamentary election and led the fight against Daesh in Mosul.
Whether the Iraqi populist will be able to reform Baghdad as he wishes remains to be seen, but one thing does appear certain: that his victory will cause somewhat of a headache for US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Antichrist’s men could break Iraq’s deceptive calm in 2023

Shiite rivalries could break Iraq’s deceptive calm in 2023

Ranj AlaaldinWednesday, March 1, 2023

Since the appointment of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in October 2022, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella organization of mostly Shiite militia groups that is accorded a formal status as an auxiliary branch of the Iraqi security forces, is making a comeback. Despite many challenges and serious setbacks since 2018, the PMF has shown a marked ability to bounce back from weakened leadership and internal fractures, a significant electoral defeat, and the loss of political capital with large segments of the Iraqi public. It has survived pressures resulting from the January 2020 U.S. assassinations of its former commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and his Iranian sponsor, Qassem Soleimani, the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and from measures undertakenby the former prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Not only has the PMF proved resilient, but it also retains political and military advantages that are likely to make it a force to be reckoned with for decades to come.

Yet the PMF also faces challenges, and its malign activities, which include human rights abuses, may yet be curtailed, especially if the West and its regional allies can work with moderate actors in Iraq or those that fear the organization’s monopolization of power. The most significant of the PMF’s difficulties comes in the form of Iraq’s intra-Shiite political rivalries. Both the PMF’s power and vulnerabilities were manifest last August when Iraq was pushed to the brink of civil war following political tensions and violent confrontations between the PMF and its political allies, known as the Shiite Coordination Framework, and their rival, Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr heads Iraq’s most powerful sociopolitical movement, the Sadrist movement, and one of the country’s most powerful militia groups, Saraya al-Salam. Although his withdrawal from politics is likely temporary, Sadr will remain a significant challenge for the PMF in future religious leadership succession contests, economic turf battles, and day-to-day politicking. This intra-Shiite contestation as well as external pressures will not only threaten the PMF but can also reignite more violence, even another civil war.

The Rise and Weakening of the PMF

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Shiite militia groups have enjoyed dramatic success in expanding their influence, augmenting their combat capabilities, and transitioning from rag-tag militia groups to powerful political players with considerable control over the Iraqi state. Some, like the Badr Brigade, established in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War, were already firmly entrenched political actors with a loyal support base. Others, like Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah, designated as terrorist groups by the United States, drew on their battlefield successes against the Islamic State (ISIS) between 2014 and 2018 to evolve into major political players.

Iraq’s Shiite militia network is underpinned by an array of informal sociopolitical, cultural, and security structures. Some emerged in the post-invasion tumult, others developed during the years of Baathist rule. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War forged friendships, kinships, and revolutionary camaraderie among the main factions and their leaders.

The network is also undergirded by Iran. As head of the PMF and Kataib Hezbollah and Soleimani’s right-hand man, Muhandis had played a critical role in enhancing Iran’s influence over the Iraqi political system. As a result, Iran had been able to outsource some of its local security requirements to Muhandis in recent years, just as it had done with Badr Brigade leader Hadi al-Amiri during the 1990s and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

In Iraq’s 2018 parliamentary elections, the political parties linked to the PMF came in second. That impressive outcome solidified the PMF’s status as a formidable political actor. But the January 2020 assassinations of Muhandis and Soleimani widened internal fractures. The PMF’s new leadership has lacked their authority and strategic acumen. Instead, key PMF groups such as the Badr Brigade and Asaib Ahl al-Haq have pivoted toward Nouri al-Maliki of the Islamic Dawa Party, whose tenure as prime minister (2006-14) hastened the PMF’s ascension.

Moreover, in March 2020, several PMF factions aligned with Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani withdrew from the PMF and placed themselves directly under the authority of the Iraqi Armed Forces. These militia groups had previously resisted Iran’s influence but operated within the ambit of the PMF during the war against ISIS. This split significantly weakened the PMF, which had drawn significant religious legitimacy and political influence under the cover of Iraqi nationalism and patriotism from al-Sistani’s blessing in 2014. However, the PMF’s legitimacy had already been undermined by its actions in 2018, when its Iran-backed factions systematically repressed civilians during the Tishreen protests, which challenged Iraq’s ruling elite and its misgovernance as well as Iran’s influence in the country.

This cumulative weakening, alongside Sadr’s electoral acumen and superiority, was displayed in Iraq’s 2021 parliamentary elections: the PMF won a meager 17 seats, down from the 47 it won in 2018. The organization’s defeat contrasted with the success of its foremost rivals, the Sadrists, who won 73 seats (an increase from the 54 they won in 2018).

The PMF’s comeback

In the subsequent months, Sadr attempted to form a coalition majority in the Iraqi parliament at the expense of the PMF and the Shiite Coordination Framework, whose poor electoral performance presented him with an opportunity to exclude them from the government. However, Sadr’s decision departed from the power-sharing consensus that had underscored relations between Iraq’s most powerful parties and its fiercest rivals. This intensified the intra-Shiite rivalries, which finally exploded in the August 2022 violence that claimed casualties on both sides. Consequently, Sadr decided to give up his hopes of forming a majority and (perhaps temporarily) withdrew from Iraq’s political fray. The miscalculation paved the way for Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, a Maliki proxy and Dawa stalwart, to be appointed prime minister in October.

This political outcome has been a boon for the PMF. The organization has further entrenched itself in the Iraqi state, widening its economic capabilities, diversifying its revenue streams, and expanding its patronage network. In November 2022, Sudani approved the creation of a PMF trading company called Al-Muhandis (after the slain PMF commander of the same name), a state-sanctioned body with an operating budget of at least $67 million.

But challenges also lie ahead for the PMF.

Despite his withdrawal from Iraqi politics, Sadr is not going anywhere. As the heir to the political and religious leadership of his father, Mohammed Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, who was controversially appointed as a marja’ (source of emulation) in the 1990s, Sadr the younger still sees himself as the rightful leader of Iraq’s political and religious Shiite community. Sadr’s limited religious credentials do not give him enough religious credibility to succeed Sistani, but his following of 2 million to 3 million Iraqi Shiites gives him a sufficient sociopolitical basis on which to contest the post-Sistani political order in Iraq. This coming religious succession struggle will escalate the rivalries between Sadr and the PMF and its political allies such as the Islamic Dawa Party.

These political intra-Shiite contests could turn increasingly violent. The August 2022 violence may unfortunately preview what’s ahead for Iraq. The clashes caused at least 23 deaths and many more injuries as the country teetered on the edge of another civil war. Crucial mediation by the Iraqi clerical establishment in Najaf and by Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese Shiite cleric who heads Hezbollah, pulled Iraq back from the abyss. But tensions between Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Sadr remain very high, particularly in oil-rich Basra. The city’s many resources provide a vital economic base for both organizations, and it constitutes a vital strategic hub for their illicit commercial operations. Clashes over its resources may become deadly again.

Apart from intra-Shiite political rivalries, Iraq is also beset by wider regional enmities that could violently play out on its territory. They include tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran as the latter grapples with its ongoing uprising. Since the unrest unfolded, Iran has launched attacks on alleged Iranian opposition group bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and has struck targets in the north and south as part of its shadow war with Israel and the United States. If tensions escalate further, Iraq could be caught in a regional conflagration, which Sadr and the PMF may exploit. Domestically, Iraqis’ socioeconomic grievances remain vast, and Sudani will struggle to address them. Any revived Tishreen protests could again be weaponized by Sadr and the PMF and retrigger clashes between them.

Thus, the calm since Sudani’s appointment is likely deceptive. If Iraq is again gripped by violence, the PMF is likely to come out on top. Moreover, the fact that the PMF is so deeply embedded within the Iraqi state makes it difficult to manage and leaves Western conventional state-building practices ill-suited to addressing its multifaceted challenge. The West and its allies must instead bank on empowering Iraqi political actors who want to address the PMF’s human rights abuses and its efforts to monopolize power with the guidance and support of Iran. To collectively push back against the PMF, they must first address their own internal divisions over Iraq’s future and reconcile their differences over how to share power and manage the country’s wealth.

Antichrist’s supporters protest

Supporters of al Sadr have staged a sit-in outside the gates of the Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad.
APSupporters of al Sadr have staged a sit-in outside the gates of the Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad.

Iraq’s top judicial body suspends activities as Sadr supporters protest

A statement by the Supreme Judicial Council accused Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr’s supporters of pressuring the Federal Supreme Court to dissolve Parliament.

Iraq’s top judicial body has suspended its activities following a sit-in staged by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council said on Tuesday that it decided to suspend all judicial activities after al Sadr’s supporters staged a sit-in outside the gates of the body’s Baghdad headquarters to demand the dissolution of Parliament.

The statement accused al Sadr’s supporters of pressuring the Federal Supreme Court to dissolve Parliament, saying it put all judicial activities on hold in protest of such “unconstitutional acts and violations of the law”.

The council held the government and the political party standing behind the demonstration full responsibility for the protest’s consequences.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi cut short his current visit to Egypt to attend a five-way Arab summit and returned to Baghdad, according to a statement released by his office.

Al Kadhimi, according to the statement, warned that “disrupting the work of the judicial institution exposes the country to real dangers”. 

He stressed that “the right to demonstrate is guaranteed by the constitution, with the need to respect state institutions to continue their work in the service of the people”.

Political turmoil

Iraq has been in a political deadlock for nine months following general elections last October, which has since failed to agree on a new government between rival parties.

Iraq’s Federal Supreme Council was scheduled to consider a lawsuit demanding the dissolution of Parliament on Tuesday, but the session was postponed to August 30.

On August 14, the Supreme Judicial Council said it does not have the authority to dissolve the Parliament.

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

wo16-Muqtada-Al-SadrWho is Moqtada Al Sadr?

At the height of the US occupation of Iraq there were few figures American troops loathed more.
As a Shiite preacher, Moqtada Al Sadr used Friday sermons to rail against the invaders who deposed Saddam Hussein. “The little serpent has left and the great serpent has come,” he told a western journalist in 2004.
It led to him being labelled a firebrand cleric and, eventually, almost three years of self-imposed exile in Iran.
It has not been the easiest journey but the shape-shifting 44-year-old, whose political alliance appears to have won the highest number of seats in Iraq’s election, is on the verge of a remarkable transformation.
The corruption that plagues Iraq appears to have created his political opening.
Cultivating an outsider image, Al Sadr has navigated shifting allegiances, military
Embracing an Iraqi nationalist identity, staunchly against foreign influence, made him stand out in a field of post-invasion leaders at one time or another seemingly beholden to foreign states.
He is now a potential king-maker.
Born in the religious city of Najaf, the young cleric came to prominence after 2003 by raising an insurgent army, leveraging his influence as the son of a revered Grand Ayatollah killed for opposing Saddam.
Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and improvised explosives, the Mahdi Army led the Shiite resistance against the American invasion.
During Iraq’s brutal sectarian war in 2006-2007, the militia was accused of running death squads, seeking to remove Sunnis from areas of Baghdad.
The Pentagon once declared that the group had “replaced Al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.”
Al Sadr later fell foul of the Iraqi government following violence between his militiamen and the rival Shiite group, the Badr Organisation.
It wasn’t until the Iraqi army cracked down on the Mahdi army in 2007 – years after an arrest warrant had been issued against Al Sadr – that the heat finally got too much.
He fled to Iran – studying to become an ayatollah at the preeminent Shiite religious centre in Qom – before returning in early 2011.
The Mahdi army remobilised as the Peace Companies in 2014 to fight against ISIS but today Al Sadr’s influence rests more on his ability to rouse his followers.
In 2016, he reasserted his political relevance when his supporters stormed Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in protests demanding better services and an end to corruption.
He drew upon that same support base and anger to mobilise voters last weekend.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr visits his father's grave after parliamentary election results were announced, in Najaf, Iraq on May 14, 2018. Alaa Al Marjani / Reuters Photo
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr visits his father’s grave after parliamentary election results were announced, in Najaf, Iraq on May 14, 2018. Alaa Al Marjani / Reuters Photo

Campaign slogans such as “corruption is terrorism” resonated across Iraq, but particularly in neglected areas of Baghdad such as the sprawling working class neighbourhood that bears his family name.
Sadr City was once Saddam City but was renamed in memory of the protests which were crushed there following Al Sadr‘s father’s murder in 1999. Uncollected rubbish piles and open sewers fuel resentment at the lack of development.
Like most Iraqis, his “Sadrist” followers want change, lacking faith in the post-invasion political elite to deliver.
But whereas many Iraqis stayed home on Saturday, either as a boycott or from apathy – turnout was only 44.5 per cent – the Sadrists voted in force, believing in his determination to tackle corruption.
He had earlier cleaned house within his own ranks, banning current MPs – accused of corruption – from running.
Instead, Al Sadr formed an alliance with Iraqi communists and secularists, allowing him to inject new faces and complete his move from sectarian militia leader to Iraqi nationalist.

Iraqi supporters of Sairun list celebrate with Iraqi flags and a portrait of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr after results of Iraq's parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad, Iraq May 15, 2018. Thaier Al Sudani / Reuters Photo
Iraqi supporters of Sairun list celebrate with Iraqi flags and a portrait of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr after results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad, Iraq May 15, 2018. Thaier Al Sudani / Reuters Photo

The move worked, with his Sairoon bloc winning the nationwide popular vote with more than 1.3 million votes, and gaining an estimated 54 of parliament’s 329 seats.
“He has undergone a transformation – he is more mature now – but that’s also true of the atmosphere around him,” said Dr Muhanad Seloom, associate lecturer in international relations at the University of Exeter.
“I don’t think he’s a different beast as people say, he’s the same person, he still holds the same convictions, political and religious, but he’s a nationalist.”
Al Sadr immediately began negotiations to form a coalition government, another role he is familiar with. In 2010, after the Sadrist bloc won 39 seats in parliament, Al Sadr showed his ability to bury the hatchet, playing coalition partner to former enemy Nouri Al Maliki. The pact allowed Al Maliki to retain the premiership.
This time Al Sadr will be in a stronger position, though political office is not his aim. As he did not stand as a candidate himself, he cannot be named prime minister.
And as in previous elections, when prime ministers have been selected with the consultation of both the US and Iran, Al Sadr‘s bloc will have to contend with rivals.
The US will be wondering whether it can maintain influence with a man they once labelled a thug but may take solace in his strong stance against Iran.
Iran may be more inclined toward supporting Al Sadr‘s rivals, Shiite militia leader Hadi Al Ameri, and, once again, Al Maliki.
Ahead of the election, a senior Iranian official said: “We will not allow liberals and communists to govern Iraq,” a reference to Sadr’s allies in the Sairoon bloc.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has given indications it would be willing to work with Al Sadr, who visited the kingdom last summer to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi minister of state for Arab Gulf affairs and former ambassador to Iraq, Thamer Al Sabhan congratulated Iraq on its elections, tweeting: “You are truly on marching toward wisdom, patriotism and solidarity. You’ve made the decision for change towards an Iraq that raises the banners of victory with its independence, Arabism and identity.”
If Al Sadr were able to form a government, it could be a step in the right direction for Iraq, Dr Seloom believes: “He wants a technocratic government, he wants Iraq to be democratic and he wants to fight corruption.”

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

who is muqtada al-sadr karadsheh jsten orig_00004724Who is Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 5:20 AM ET, Fri May 6, 2016(CNN)

Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t an ayatollah.

He’s not a general and he’s not a politician, at least in the conventional sense. But with a single speech he can spark a protest that ends up in with hundreds of Iraqi Shiites storming their parliament. He’s commanded a militia of thousands, some who fought and killed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. And he’s been on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet.

Iraqi protesters overrun green zone

This is how he’s managed to gain such prominence — and retain it.

The Sadr family

Sadr was born in 1973 in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to a prominent family.

The city, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad, is home to the Imam Ali shrine, where the eponymous cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Shiites believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad.

Sadr’s father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an important Shiite figure in Iraq who openly spoke out against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.

The elder Sadr and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999 in Najaf, and many believe that he was killed either by the dictator’s forces or Sunnis loyal to him.

Despite the cult of personality Muqtada al-Sadr has developed in recent years, he is still a relatively private man. He does not appear in public often and his exact age was not known until recently.

Protesters in Kadhimiya, Iraq, hold up pictures of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father.

The Mehdi Army

Sadr is best known to Western audiences for his role leading the Mehdi Army, which he formed in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The militia is considered the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, which followed the teachings of Sadr’s father. Its power base was in Najaf and the massive Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, which is home to more than 2 million Shias.

Sadr himself opposed the presence of outside forces in Iraq — be they al Qaeda’s Sunni fighters or U.S. forces — and hoped to establish Islamic rule within the country, clashing with the Iraqi Army, U.S. forces and fellow Shias.

By 2004, forces loyal to Sadr battled the U.S. for control of Najaf. President George W. Bush labeled him an enemy and ordered the U.S. military to take him out.

U.S. Marines in northern Kuwait gear up after receiving orders to cross the Iraqi border on March 20, 2003. It has been more than 10 years since the American-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Look back at 100 moments from the war and the legacy it left behind.

“We can’t allow one man to change the course of the country,” he said, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Within a week, Bush changed course and decided not to go after him.

“That reversal was the turning point in al-Sadr’s rise to power,” Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said. “It gave him legitimacy and enhanced his stature within the broader Iraqi community.”

Later that year, Sadr made peace with the most powerful Shia religious figure in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who brokered a truce between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The deal brought together the unquestioned spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia population and the man who could mobilize the Shia “street.”

The Mehdi Army in Najaf in 2007.

As part of the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed not to press charges after a judge issued an arrest warrant for Sadr in connection with the killing of another prominent Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

But the Mehdi Army became even more deadly as the war dragged on.

The militia was linked to much of the sectarian violence that reached fever pitch in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It was accused of running death squads, killing Sunni Arabs and fighting with rival Shiite factions, though Sadr would denounce the violence from time to time.

After more than 200 people were killed in an attack on Sadr City in 2006 — one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq war — Shiite militants responded by burning people to death and attacking Sunni mosques.

By the end of the year, Pentagon leaders assessed that the Mehdi army had replaced al Qaeda as “the most dangerous accelerant” of sectarian violence in Iraq.

But the Mehdi Army also clashed with other Shiite militias. The group often clashed with Badr Brigades for control of parts of Iraq’s Shiite-dominate south. At one point the Badr Brigades partnered with Iraqi security forces to fight the Mehdi Army.

However, the Mehdi Army’s power and influence began to subside by the end of 2007, in part due to the U.S. troop surge.


Sadr’s capacity to reinvent his role in Iraqi politics, and to tap into a strong vein of Shia protest, has helped him survive and outmaneuver many rivals over the past 13 years. His latest initiative reinforces his place as one of the most influential figures in Iraq.

He and the Iraqi government signed a ceasefire in 2008, and later that year he formally disbanded the Mehdi Army.

The organization is now called Saraya al-Salam, which means the Peace Brigades.

His plan was to transition it into a socio-political populist movement to help Iraq’s poor Shiites through a combination of political and grassroots activities — following a similar model to the structure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Sadr would move to Iran later that year for religious study. Some believed that he hoped to achieve a higher religious standing, like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in order to strengthen his leadership position.

Muqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in Najaf in 2011.

He returned to Iraq permanently in 2011 — more than three years later — without a new title, but with ambitions to become an Iraqi nationalist leader who could make a difference by growing his movement and pushing his followers to the ballot box.

“We have not forgotten the occupier. We remain a resistance,” he said in one of his first speeches back. Sadr did strike a conciliatory tone with fellow Iraqis: “Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united,” he said. “We do not kill an Iraqi.”

Though Sadr rarely makes public appearances, his plan seems to have worked so far.

During Iraq’s 2010 elections, his supporters were key to helping then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a second term; today they make up the second-largest bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.

Muqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in 2006.

But Sadr and Maliki have since had a nasty falling out, and now are considered rivals in Baghdad.

After the 2010 election, Sadr referred to Maliki as a “dictator.”

He often called for the government to better include moderate Sunni elements, a faction that most say was marginalized by the Maliki government, which led to his ouster (and in part contributed to the rise of ISIS).

Long-time U.S. enemy threatens ISIS leader

His support for Iraq’s current Prime Minster, Haider al-Abadi, is lukewarm at best.

Sadr is now focusing his efforts on reshaping Iraq’s government — he wants more technocrats appointed and to go after corrupt politicians.

Sadr’s supporters held massive protests earlier this year to push Abadi to form a new government and enact reforms. The demonstrations were called off after Abadi trimmed the size of his Cabinet and submitted a new list of nonpolitical ministers for approval by parliament.

And it was Sadr’s impassioned speech late April that spurred protesters to occupy the Iraqi Parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Hamdi Alkhshali, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Elise Labott contributed to this report

The Shia Horns Cooperate: Daniel 8

Iran, Iraq Eye Closer Regional Cooperation

Iran, Iraq Eye Closer Regional Cooperation

  • May, 26, 2023

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Stressing the need to carry out an agreement on security cooperation between Iran and Iraq, the foreign ministers of the two countries weighed plans for stronger regional collaboration.

In a telephone conversation on Thursday night, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein talked about the latest status of bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad.

The two senior diplomats emphasized the necessity for the implementation of a security agreement the two neighbors signed in March.

They also stressed the need to promote regional cooperation between the two countries and to increase the capacity of pipelines that transfer natural gas from Iran to Iraq.

Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian also expressed gratitude to Iraq for facilitating the financial and banking transactions related to the Hajj pilgrimage that Iranian pilgrims make to Saudi Arabia this year.

He finally called for efforts to strengthen banking cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad.

Last month, Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid paid an official visit to Iran and weighed plans to enhance the political, economic, trade and cultural cooperation between the two nations.

Stressing the need for efforts to promote the relations in various fields and remove the obstacles to mutual cooperation, Rashid said details have been discussed about ways to improve the infrastructures of the two neighbors.

Lauding the recent agreement on the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi president said the rapprochement would contribute to regional security and stability.

Antichrist’s Men Modelling IRGC’s Engineering Arm: Revelation 13

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, pictured here on 31 December 2019 attending a funeral for members of the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary da group

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, pictured here on 31 December 2019 attending a funeral for members of the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary da group

Iraq’s Shiite Militias Modelling IRGC’s Engineering Arm

Friday, 05/26/20233 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

The Muhandis Company in Iraq is going to model the Revolutionary Guard’s engineering arm with the support of the Islamic Republic.

According to information obtained by Iran International, the Islamic Republic has gained the permits for the establishment of the company in exchange for its support for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani to win the office. 

The Muhandis General Company (Sharakat al-Muhandis al-Amma) takes its name from Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the former deputy commander of Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi — also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) — and a close comrade of former IRGC’s extraterritorial Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani. They were killed together in January 2020 by a US drone strike.

Muhandis was himself a graduate of civil engineering and in the late 1970s joined the Islamic Dawa Party, which fiercely opposed the Baathist government of Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and led an insurgency against him during the Iran-Iraq war.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces, attends a funeral procession of Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) members.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces, attends a funeral procession of Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) members.

According to our sources, the establishment of the company and its growing sway in Iraq’s construction projects has led to the opposition of the Iraqi army and even the Shiite leaders in Najaf. Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — who seeks to curb the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraqi politics – has once and again called against an Iranian-linked government or a subordinate one in Baghdad.

The Muhandis company seeks to become the Iraqi version of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, IRGC’s engineering and contracting arm. Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarter is one of Iran’s largest contractors in industrial and development projects. The IRGC business conglomerate was created during the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War to help rebuild the country and has diversified over the years into companies dealing with mechanical engineering, energy, mining, and defense. 

Earlier in May, London-based pan-Arab website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Al-Muhandis company is increasing its work in the field of contracting and infrastructure in the private and public sector through several projects in the capital Baghdad and several other cities, describing it as the Islamic Republic’s effort to create “a parallel state” inside Iraq.

The report claimed that via its growing network, the company aims to provide financial resources to support Hashd al-Shaabi and its affiliated armed factions.

“Some see the establishment of the company as an attempt to replicate the experience of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, aimed at controlling economic and commercial sectors in Iraq, towards building a parallel economy, under the management of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which gives the group financial independence,” claimed the report.

According to the report, the company was established in November 2022 with a capital of 100 billion dinars ($68.5 million) and it is exempt from paying any taxes.

In March, US-based think-tank The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that the company launched its inaugural project — a commitment to plant one million trees in a large parcel of government-provided land in al-Muthanna province. It said: “The launch event was attended by both PMF chairman Faleh al-Fayyad, a US-designated human rights abuser, and PMF chief of staff Abdul-Aziz al-Mohammadawi (aka Abu Fadak), a US-designated terrorist.”

The think-tank added that Iraqi ‘resistance’ groups – affiliated with the Islamic Republic — have long sought a company “with preferential access to lucrative state contracts, and the Sudani government is finally providing them after years of opposition.”

Who Is The Antichrist? (Revelation 13:11)

Baghdad protests

Who is Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr? The Iraqi Shia cleric making a comeback in Baghdad

By Stefano Freyr Castiglione
March 11, 2016 09:51 GMT 
Supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burn a US flag during a protest demanding the government prevent the entry of U.S. troops into Iraq at Al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad, September 20, 2014.REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Images from last Friday’s demonstrations in Baghdad, where thousands of people gathered outside the so-called Green Zone, may have reminded some observers of the protests that took place in a number of Arab countries in 2011. But during the Arab Spring people were not guided by political leadership, whereas recent demonstrations in Iraq have been promoted and led by one man in particular; Iraqi Shia leader Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr was born in 1973 to a family of high-ranking Shia clerics. Both his father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and his father-in-law, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, were important religious authorities who enjoyed large support among their co-religionists, a key factor in why there were tensions between them and the Baathist regime.

The latter was arrested and executed in 1980, while the former was assassinated in 1999 at the hands of regime agents. Muqtada al-Sadr, a junior and unknown cleric at the time, inherited his father’s legacy and popular support (primarily among working class Shia families in the South and the now ubiquitous Sadr City in Baghdad).

While he opposed the Baathist regime, his rise to prominence came with his resistance to the Anglo-American occupation after 2003, founding a militia known as the Mahdi Army, which was involved in the post-invasion insurgency, and accused of sectarian violence. Being able to count on both large popular support and a powerful military force, he soon became one of Iraq’s leading political and religious figures.

Sadr’s stance with regards to Iraqi politics has been rather ambiguous, leading some to describe him as “a hybrid of anti-establishment positions while being part of the establishment himself.” His involvement in the country’s public life has seen him make moves and take positions which are sometimes in contrast with the Shia ruling majority’s orientations. He is a steadfast opponent of sectarian politics, although some members of his bloc, the Sadrist Movement, have held, and continue to hold, positions in governments based on quota-sharing.

Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

A common thread since 2003 has been the opposition to foreign interference in Iraq, regardless whether it comes from the West (US, UK) or the East (Iran). His disenchantment as to the possibility of pursuing an alternative to sectarian politics was one of the reasons that led him to suddenly announce his withdrawal from political life in 2014, as one of his movement’s officials stated.
Since then, things have evolved in Iraq. The rise of Islamic State (Isis) in which sectarian politics undoubtedly played a role has posed a serious threat to the stability of the country, exacerbated by the political tensions of Maliki’s government at the time. Despite enormous difficulties (the constant threat of extremism, the recent fall of oil prices), his successor Haidar al-Abadi has managed to keep the country afloat as the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) and the Security Forces have regained territory from Daesh.

Abadi has been able to ease tensions with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to take some anti-corruption measures, and to purge the army of inefficient officials. Some issues which have taken root in Iraq have not yet been entirely solved, such as poor public services, corruption, lack of transparency, and sectarianism.

These are the plagues that Sadr has vowed to fight against, on the base of a populist vision of national unity in which religiosity and patriotism are often conflated, as the slogan “Love for one’s country is part of the faith” suggests. The Shia leader supported Abadi’s pledge to carry out a government reshuffle, aimed at installing a technocratic cabinet, as well as to fight corruption, restore services, and implement public accountability.

People in Iraq are getting more and more frustrated at Abadi-led government’s inability to move forward in the reform process — which some elements in the ruling majority actually oppose, seeing it as a threat to their interests. As talks between political factions have not led to concrete results so far, Sadr has seen an opportunity to mobilise the Iraqi masses and push for more audacious measures.
After having a member of his own political bloc, Baha al-A’raji (PM deputy), arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, he disavowed the corrupt officers in his movement and is currently going to investigate how they have caused corruption.

Sadr urges Iraqis to oppose U.S., but peacefully
Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Reuters

Given Sadr’s huge influence both as a political and military leader — his military wing known as the Peace Brigades has participated in the liberation of the Leine area west of Samarra — his moves could turn out to be a destabilising factor, which is not the first time Sadrist intervention has disrupted the political process.

Looking at the causes that may have led Sadr to such a steadfast return to public life, it has been suggested that he hopes to prevent other Shia groups from asserting their influence in the country, on both a political and a military level. After a government reshuffle was proposed, factions have been in disagreement over how this is to be done: while one side prefers the ministries to be chosen by political parties, another side, led by Sadr, asserts that parties should not interfere.
Sadr has also threatened the current government with a vote of no-confidence if no agreement is reached within 45 days. It is also worth noting that Sadr does not oppose Abadi, but he thinks he should take the chance to promote reforms before it’s too late.

How is Sadr’s comeback to be evaluated? This week, the third demonstration led by the Shia leaexpected to be held, which threatens to storm the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital. There are mixed feelings in the Iraqi street regarding Sadr’s role. Some support his push for change, frustrated at Abadi government’s poor performance in terms of reforms.

Others, however, are afraid that if a breach in security occurs during the protests, it will undermine the rule of law and set a precedent that Sadr is taking the law into his own hands. This is why some of the Green Zone residents have allegedly left the area lest the situation gets out of control.
Despite being characterised by some clearly populist motifs, Sadr’s pledge to fight against corruption and for the sake of the most vulnerable classes of Iraqi society can function as an incentive for the large-scale reforms proposed by Abadi. At the same time, though, Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

His call for a more transparent and efficient administration, then, can be beneficial as long as his long-term vision does not hinder the current government’s activity, given the delicate stage the country is going through.

Stefano Freyr Castiglione is an Arab media analyst at Integrity UK

Death Toll from George Bush Jr: Revelation 13:1

| US Army soldiers occupying Iraq in 2007 | MR OnlineU.S. Army soldiers occupying Iraq in 2007

U.S. post-9/11 wars caused 4.5 million deaths, displaced 38-60 million people, study shows

By Ben Norton (Posted May 22, 2023)

Originally published: Geopolitical Economy Report  on May 18, 2023 (more by Geopolitical Economy Report | 

The wars the United States waged and fueled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan following September 11, 2001 caused at least 4.5 million deaths, according to a report by Brown University.

Nearly a million of the people who lost their lives died in fighting, whereas some 3.6 to 3.7 million were indirect deaths, due to health and economic problems caused by the wars, such as diseases, malnutrition, and destruction of infrastructure.

These were the conclusions of a study conducted by the Cost of Wars project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

The report also analyzed the effects of wars in Libya and Somalia, which were sponsored by Washington.

The scholars estimated that, in the countries studied, there are still today 7.6 million children under age 5 who are suffering from acute malnutrition, meaning they are “not getting enough food, literally wasting to skin and bones, putting these children at greater risk of death”.

In Afghanistan and Yemen, this includes nearly 50% of children; and, in Somalia, close to 60%.

| Figure 2 Child Malnutrition by War Zone Country Data from 2020 2023 | MR Online

In a separate study in 2021, Brown University’s Cost of Wars project found that the United States’ post-9/11 wars displaced at least 38 million people—more than any conflict since 1900, excluding World War II.

This 2021 report noted that “38 million is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 wars could be closer to 49—60 million, which would rival World War II displacement”.

| Millions displaced by US post 911 wars | MR Online

The May 2023 study, which estimated that U.S. post-9/11 wars killed 4.5 to 4.6 million people, emphasized that large numbers of civilians are still perishing today, due of the lasting consequences of these violent conflicts.

Although the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, “today Afghans are suffering and dying from war-related causes at higher rates than ever”, the report noted.

In addition to the staggering death tolls, millions more civilians were wounded and suffered other incredible hardships due to these wars.

“For instance, for every person who dies of a waterborne disease because war destroyed their access to safe drinking water and waste treatment facilities, there are many more who sicken”, the study highlighted.

The 2023 report “highlights many longterm and underacknowledged consequences of war for human health, emphasizing that some groups, particularly women and children, suffer the brunt of these ongoing impacts”.

People living in poverty and those from marginalized groups had higher rates of death and lower life expectancies.

The document stressed how the “post-9/11 wars have caused widespread economic hardship for people in the war zones, and how poverty, in turn, has been accompanied by food insecurity and malnutrition, which have led to diseases and death, particularly amongst children under age five”.

| Figure 3 Causal Pathways Towards Indirect Deaths in the Post 911 Wars | MR Online

In virtually all wars, indirect deaths represent the majority of the lives lost. The Brown University researchers pointed out, for example,

In conflict areas, children are 20 times more likely to die of diarrheal disease than from the conflict itself.

Damage to infrastructure that happens during wars is likewise very deadly. “Hospitals, clinics, and medical supplies, water and sanitation systems, electricity, roads and traffic signals, infrastructure for farming and shipping goods, and much more are destroyed, damaged and disrupted, with lasting consequences for human health”, the report noted.

Economic problems caused by these post-9/11 wars have been devastating.

Two decades of U.S.-NATO military occupation of Afghanistan left behind a borderline apocalyptic economic crisis.

More than half of Afghanistan’s population is in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. A staggering 95% of Afghans do not have enough food.

In Yemen, more than 17.4 million people are food insecure, and 85,000 children under age 5 have likely died from starvation.

Even in countries where large numbers of U.S. troops weren’t deployed on the ground, Washington’s wars have destroyed the lives of countless civilians.

U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia “significantly impact people’s livelihood sources”, killing workers, destroying farms and businesses, and bankrupting families.

“The severe impact of such economic setbacks on populations who depend on the land for their survival cannot be underestimated”, the report emphasized.

Washington’s so-called counter-terrorism laws in Somalia have also “hampered humanitarian relief efforts, intensifying the effects of famine”, the researchers noted.

Hundreds of thousands of children have died from famine in the East African nation.

The Brown University studies are part of a growing body of scholarship documenting the death tolls of post-9/11 U.S. wars.

A 2015 report by the Nobel Prize-winning group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) concluded that 13 years of Washington’s so-called “War on Terror” caused a total of 1.3 million deaths, including 1 million in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan, and 80,000 in Pakistan.

IPPNW cautioned that this 2015 figure was “only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely”.