Sadrist Movement

The Sadrist Movement—named after prominent clerics from the al-Sadr family—emerged in Iraq in the 1990s amid the Shia Muslim uprising against President Saddam Hussein after his defeat in the Gulf War.

A product of decades of suppression of the Shia population under the Sunni-led Baath Party, the revolt was violently crushed by Saddam. The US invasion of 2003 and the overthrow of Saddam resulted in the formation of the anti-US Mahdi Army, the Sadrist Movement’s militia wing. The Sadrists, however, set violence aside when they participated in the general election of 2005 as part of a wider coalition of Shia parties. The Mahdi Army was disbanded in 2008, only to be revived as the Peace Companies around 2014 to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni militant jihadist group. Since 2003, the Sadrist Movement—in its militant and political incarnations—has been led by Muqtada al-Sadr, whose persona and public statements are often imbued with messianism and millenarianism.