Moqtada Al Sadr, the popular Shiite cleric and leader of one of the most feared Iraqi Shia extremist groups, the Mahdi army, is oncourse to become even more influential in Iraqi politics. With reports coming in from inside Iraq that the radical cleric is on his way to attaining the title of Ayatollah which then would make him even more popular among the majority Shias across the country. But the news would not be welcomed by Americans, liberal Iraqis and ofcourse Sunnis. With Britain set to hand over Basra province to Iraqi hands in the coming days and the US planning to scale down its presence from the country, there is every chance that Iraq is again embroiled in a bitter power struggle with Al Sadr with his Mahdi army at the forefront. At this particular moment Al Sadr’s political motives can hardly be judged given his rare public appearance but one thing is for sure that as the son of a former top Shiite leader, Moqtada Al Sadr is a homegrown Iraqi nationalist who has openly pitted himself against the Iranian born foremost Iraqi leader Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani and emphasises on native-grown Shiite religious practices with no links to Iran. But this does not mean that Al Sadr is an anti-Iranian just like the Americans. Infact over the last couple of years the fire-brand anti-American cleric has visited Iran number of times which is a clear hint of a rapprochment between Tehran and Al-Sadr over future Iraqi polics and anti-American sentiments. Al Sadr, in his early 30s, commands great influence among poor jobless Shiite Muslim youths. The Mahdi leader’s opponents believe him to be an impatient radical Muslim who desperately wants to dominate Iraq’s oil-rich south by force. What concerns most is the fact that Al Sadr enjoys a lot of support within the Shia-dominated Iraqi government and was instrumental in putting prime minister Nouri Al Maliki into power. There is every chance that to appease the radical cleric, the government would allow Al Sadr to enter mainstream political process which would be another dangerous step for the sole reason that Sunnis and Kurds would not tolerate the outspoken Moqtada Al Sadr in any given democratic Iraqi government. The Kurds and the Sunnis fear that Al Sadr is desperate to turn Iraq into an Islamic fundamentalist country with deadly ramifications for the minority.