Moqtada al-Sadr won’t be Iraq’s next prime minister, but he may very well decide who is. It’s a striking outcome for the Shia cleric who forged a reputation as a radical in the insurgency he led against the U.S. after the invasion of 2003, and who then defined himself as an Iraqi nationalist through his defiance of Iran.
Senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees news coverage
Ali Abdullah Saleh once described ruling Yemen as “dancing over the heads of snakes.” The former president’s reported death Monday, at the hands of Houthi rebels who were his allies just a few days ago, shows not only the perils of that balancing act, but also the political shifts in a country wracked by civil war since 2015. More importantly, perhaps, is that it shows how difficult it will be to resolve the civil war—and the proxy fight between Saudi Arabia and Iran that helps fuel it—in the most impoverished country in the Arab world.