Shi'ite Leaders In Iraq Form Unexpected, Pro-Iran Political Alliance

Powerful Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has announced an unexpected political alliance with pro-Iranian militia chief Hadi al-Amiri in a bid to lead Iraq over the next four years. The two blocs won first and second place in the country's May 12 parliamentary election. By forming a coalition with Amiri on June 12, Sadr moves a step closer to forming a coalition with enough seats to hold a majority in the 329-seat parliament. The two Shi'ite figures said they would keep the door open for other winning blocs to join them in forming a new government. The move by Sadr, who is staunchly opposed to Iranian involvement in the country, was a surprise as he had previously suggested he would not work with Amiri and his band of pro-Iranian former fighters.

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