Muqtada al-Sadr's election upset could rattle U.S.-Iraq relations

Sadr is a ferocious critic of American policies in the Middle East, and his unexpected electoral haul immediately calls into question the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. But his spokesman said Sadr supports honoring commitments between Iraq and the United States concerning the training of Iraq’s security forces and weapons purchases as long as they serve Iraq’s interests and there “is no interference on the sovereignty of Iraq.”

Sadr’s ticket won the most seats in Iraq’s parliamentary election, according to results from all 18 provinces released Monday, placing him in the best position to select the country’s next prime minister and set the course for how the nation emerges from a costly war against the Islamic State…

But Sadr has grown increasingly pragmatic over the years and formed a cross-sectarian electoral alliance emphasizing Iraqi nationalism over loyalty to Iranian clerics and American military and political backing. He has also broken ranks with Iraq’s Shiite establishment by denouncing Iran’s involvement in Syria’s civil war and its bid for expanded influence in Iraq.

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