I first heard of the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr soon after American forces occupied Baghdad in 2003. His men were implicated in the stabbing murder of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Khoi, who was a custodian of a Shia holy mosque in Najaf. Soon after, Sadr’s men launched attacks on the US forces as well, and the occupation authorities issued a “kill or capture” warrant for Sadr that was not enforced or pursued with conviction.
To me, Sadr represented what was wrong with the ‘new’ Iraq. Though his father was murdered by Saddam Hussain, Sadr and his supporters never waged a war against the regime, unlike other opponents like the Kurds or, in the case of the Shia, the Badr organisation which had a few hundred armed men in the PUK-controlled territories of Kurdistan. Sadr was late to the party and picked a fight with the wrong guy.
The Labor Party won a resounding victory in the West Australian election on Saturday securing 42.8 per cent of the vote to Liberal’s 31.4 per cent.
The new government is expected to win up to 41 seats in the parliament to Liberal’s 13 and the National’s 5 seats according to ABC election analyst Anthony Green.
“Today we showed we are a state of decency and intelligence, not a state of stupidity and ignorance. Today, as always, West Australians showed the way for the rest of the country,” the premier-elect Mark McGowan said in his victory speech.
Liberal/National coalition in Canberra was in damage control yesterday dismissing the implications of the result for the federal government.
“I think [outgoing WA premier] Colin [Barnett] summed it up very well when he said overwhelmingly it was the ‘it’s time’ factor,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
“It was a government that, as he said, had been in for eight-and-a-half years. The history is that it’s very hard to win re-election after that period of time.”
Pre-election polls indicated a change of government was probable but the scale of the Labor victory surprised most election analysts.
Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson blamed the “scare campaign” for her party’s poor showing in the polls.
Premier-elect Mark McGovern is expected to be sworn in to office within days.