Leftnews.org | News and Views from the Left

by Editors — last modified 2018-05-01T13:01:25-04:00
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox
The best of the political left-wing from around the web.

Venezuela elections: Maduro wins second term | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified May 21, 2018 11:07 AM
"The 14-nation Lima group of Latin American countries plus Canada issued a statement on Monday saying it did not recognise the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election. The statement said the countries would call their ambassadors back from Caracas for consultations and hold a meeting to coordinate a regional response to outflows of Venezuelans “who have been obligated to abandon their country”. Venezuela’s election board put turnout at just 46.1%, way down from the 80% registered at the last presidential vote in 2013, due to a boycott by Venezuela’s mainstream opposition."

Once Hated by U.S. and Tied to Iran, Is Sadr Now ‘Face of Reform’ in Iraq? | The New York Times

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified May 21, 2018 10:54 AM
"In his only extensive interview before the elections, given to his own television channel, Mr. Sadr put forth a manifesto largely adopted from his new secularist allies. He said his goals were to put professionals — not partisan loyalists — into positions of power as a way to build national institutions that serve the people instead of political insiders. ... The first time many Iraqis heard the name Moktada al-Sadr was soon after the Americans seized control of Baghdad in 2003. In the post-occupation chaos, Mr. Sadr emerged as a type of Robin Hood, deploying his recently formed militia to distribute food to the poor and defend Shiites against what many came to view as acts of American aggression. ... In 2008, while Mr. Sadr was still in Iran, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered the Iraqi army to [disarm his] militia. An intense urban battle killed 215 militia members and wounded 600. By 2012, Mr. Sadr, who had returned from Iran, had regained enough influence to spearhead a vote of no-confidence against Mr. Maliki, a maneuver that spun Iraq into a new crisis. ... For the past two years, supporters of Mr. Sadr have banded together with communists, intellectuals and community activists in protest rallies, efforts that have built mutual respect. Last fall, the Communist Party leadership visited Mr. Sadr at his headquarters in Najaf, the home of Iraq’s clerical establishment. Mr. Fahmi, one of the Communist leaders, said several of his comrades were initially cool to the idea of joining forces with someone perceived to have so much blood on his hands. In the end, most members accepted that if radical political change was going to work in Iraq, it needed a popular leader to bring the masses on board."

Patrick Cockburn on Muqtada al-Sadr | C-SPAN

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified May 20, 2018 06:57 PM
From June 13, 2008. -- "Patrick Cockburn talked about his book Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq (Scribner; April 8, 2008). Mr. Cockburn, Iraq correspondent for The Independent (London), talked about the rise and influence of Muqtada al-Sadr, the popular Shiite cleric who heads up one of the largest militias in Iraq. The guest interviewer was James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute."

What Iraq’s election results mean for U.S. policy there | Brookings

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified May 20, 2018 09:04 AM
"Muqtada al-Sadr is also known for his Iraqi nationalism and anti-Iran credentials, resisting Iran’s influence like his father did in the 1990s. But he is also staunchly anti-American. His movement gave rise to many of the Shiite militia groups that committed atrocities against Americans and that today dominate Iraq—as well as the frontlines of the war in Syria, where they have fought U.S. forces. These groups have been pivotal to securing the Assad regime’s survival as well as enhancing Iran’s influence in the region. ... While al-Sadr’s victory complicates things for Iran, the strong showing from [other Shi'a militia's] means that leaders in Tehran will not be losing any sleep."
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