Moqtada al-Sadr is one of the most influential religious and political leaders in Iraq. He led some of the earliest opposition to the pro-U.S. provisional government in Iraq in 2003, famously saying "Saddam was the little serpent, but America is the big serpent."
In 2004, U.S. forces shut down his newspaper for "inciting violence," which led to years of violence between U.S. forces and the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Mahdi Army and forced al-Sadr to flee to Iran.
He returned to Iraq in 2010 and participated in the election in that year. By late 2011, al-Sadr was taking political credit for forcing U.S. forces out of the country. Since 2012, he has presented himself as an anti-violence political leader and has publicly supported the Iraqi government.
In this interview with France24 TV, al-Sadr explains why he thinks the U.S. is allowing the Islamic State to continue its reign of terror in the Western part of the country.
MOQTADA AL-SADR: I would like to convey a message to the Americans. The American intervention displays that the U.S. can no longer claim to be a super power. The Islamic State group only has 5,000 members according to estimates, and the world's biggest super power has not been able to defeat this terrorist group in Syria, Iraq, and other regions, so the U.S. can no longer claim they are a super power.
FRANCE 24 INTERVIEWER: That is the question. What is the objective of the Americans? Some say the U.S. support the Islamic State organization, others say Americans dropping weapons. There are many assumptions doing the rounds about this. What in your view is the goal? Why don't the U.S. want to get rid of this organization?
MOQTADA AL-SADR: The Americans always do the same thing. First of all, they create discord somewhere, and then they stoke the fire. Exacerbate tensions with weapons, by fostering sectarianism, exacerbating the tensions, and the Americans let the protagonists kill each other, the watch the situation and they enjoy the bloodshed.