Every story about Iraq these days identifies Moktada al-Sadr as a "cleric." Is he really a cleric, or does he just play one on TV? Levelheaded accounts from Iraq over the past year have suggested pretty plainly that Sadr's claims to religious authority are false, and that he's actually exploiting his late father's standing to validate his claims to leadership. In fact, Iraq's leading Shi'ite clerics ? real ones like Sistani, Hakim, Bahrul Uloom, etc., none of them U.S. stooges -- seem to regard Sadr as a pretender and troublemaker. As it happens, accounts of the uprising story that originate in the Middle East's media (those that I've seen) do not identify Sadr as a "cleric"; rather, they identify him as the head of an armed force.
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