Muqtada al-Sadr. When he led the Army of the Mahdi against US occupation of Iraq, American troops called him Mookie. He was a nasty fat fils a papa and spawn of a distinguished Shia scholar. In those days he had very little in the way of religious credentials, but he summoned many who hoped for the return of the Shia Mahdi (perhaps the occulted Imam himself?) . The summoned 12ers often followed him and for a time his followers were a major problem for the US mission civilisatrice in the ME. After all, how could one "get on" with the region-wide campaign to geld forces hostile to Israel when this pest with his "simple minded" fanatics opposed. Sooo, a solution was devised. The US Army and USMC massed their highly trained enlisted snipers against those awaiting the Mahdi and killed near on a thousand of them. Mookie understood that it was only a matter of time for him personally. When that happened he decided that Western style politics were not as bad as he had thought and went to Iran to work on his religious qualifications pending a return to politics in Iraq. Babak will know but I recall that he became something like a Hojjat al-Islam. Now he is back and somehow unaccountably at least mildly anti-Iranian. He is the principal winner in the recent parliamentary election along with his communist party allies. He now has the problem of finding enough coalition partners to form a government. He cannot be PM because he did not win a seat himself, but will dictate the identity of the victim. I would not be surprised if the US courts him, seeking a good relationship. After all, he is supposedly anti-Iranian and that is the touchstone of American policy in the region, that, and indifference to the Palestinians.
Hassan Nasrullah. Since the last Lebanese general election the US has steadfastly sought to obey Israeli guidance in opposing the presence of the Hizbullah Party, as opposed to the Hizbullah Army in the government of Lebanon. Feltman and Satterfield were ambassador there throughout that period. Feltman is a "coach" for Nikki at the UN and David Satterfield is now acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near Est. They brought him back from retirement for that. He must have done an effective job in Lebanon. In the recent election the March 8 Alliance (Hizbullah, Amal, Aounists, Druze, and various cats and dogs) seem to me to have 55 seats in parliament. That appears to be a majority, and that coalition will dominate the new parliament. This is a big problem for the US. Hizbullah sits on Israel's northern border poised to rain fire and death on a wide range of Israeli targets of both the counter-value and counter-force types. A big enough bombardment could cripple Eretz Israel for a long time. Ah, no, I forgot. Trump and the US branch of the Knesset would immediately vote an immense amount of borrowed money for Israel. Ah, no, I forgot again. B-52s over the Tabbouleh Line would be another likely response. pl