The decline and fall of the Mahdi Army

“I am hunted. I can’t stay home. The neighbors are informing on us,” 28-year-old Bassem said at a recent rally for his leader, cleric Muqtada Sadr. Using a derogatory term for the Iraqi army, he added, “Four times, the dirty division has raided my house.”…

As he surveyed the sparse crowd of no more than 20,000 protesters, Rasoul tapped into the Sadr movement’s religious faith to sustain himself. He ignored the fact that the organizers were claiming that 1 million people had attended and put a brave face on the affair. He vowed, “The prophets are protecting us.”