Los Angeles Times

As election results are announced in Iraq, a new role emerges for a longtime US adversary

BAGHDAD - Muqtada al-Sadr, the populist Iraqi cleric, has been many things: militia leader, America basher, corruption fighter.

Now he may have a new role: kingmaker.

The alliance he leads appeared headed toward a victory in Iraq's sweeping parliamentary elections, according to results released late Monday by the country's Independent High Electoral Commission.

That would give al-Sadr a key part in choosing the next prime minister.

His Sairoon alliance, which was backed by communist and leftist groups, was well ahead of both the Fatah bloc, made up of Shiite Muslim paramilitary factions loyal to

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