Washington, Jan 6: A radical anti-American cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters once led armed uprisings against U. S. forces in Iraq, has returned to the country after spending over three years of voluntary exile in Iran.
Al-Sadr's return comes as Iraq's new government is just getting its footing and at a time when American forces are preparing to withdraw from the country.
Key leaders within Al-Sadr's Sadrist movement have confirmed that he has returned to stay.
"We are all happy because he's back," the Guardian quoted Nassir al-Rubaie, the Minister for Works in Iraq's new government, as saying.
"This is not a short visit. He has returned to where he came from and he will play an important role in the political process," he added.
Muhammad al-Khafaji, a former bodyguard of Al-Sadr who won a seat in the election, said: "His presence in Iraq, it will strengthen the resolve of our Sadrist brothers to serve the people of Iraq."
His return is expected to boost the government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as he tries to establish his second government with Al-Sadr's support. (ANI)