Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take part in a sit-in calling for governmental reform and elimination of corruption on March 20, 2016, outside the main gates of Baghdad's Green Zone. AFP / SABAH ARAR
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With Iraq's politicians tainted by corruption and the army's standing hurt by defeats, two Shiite religious authorities have re-emerged as leaders in matters of state. In their different ways, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraq's two most influential Shiite leaders, are pressuring Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to tackle graft at the heart of Iraq's government. If Abadi fails to satisfy Sistani and Sadr by delivering long-promised anti-corruption measures, his government may be weakened just as Iraqi forces are gearing up to fight for the largest city under Daesh (ISIS) control – Mosul.Sistani is a reclusive octogenarian based in the holy city of Najaf, who has no formal political power but whose teachings command authority for millions of Shiites. Sistani expresses his displeasure through silence. Sistani's office declined comment for this story.It is not the first time that Sistani has influenced the political agenda since the army's collapse before Daesh militants two years ago.Analyst Jiyad says Sistani, who has no political ambitions, may not support Sadr in case of a further escalation on the streets.
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