Reidar Visser is probably the best, most perceptive analyst of southern Iraq. Read his take on the recent local council elections, which the coalition of the (meh) Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, of Hizb al-Da'wa al-Islamiyya, won handily.
No Longer Supreme: After Local Elections, ISCI Becomes a 10 Per Cent Party South of BaghdadThe Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, led by 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Hakim and his son 'Amar, has suffered embarrassing setbacks. The Sadr Movement ran most of its candidates on "independent" lists, sensing the negative feelings many Iraqis have toward religious parties following years of neglect, corruption, and internecine Shi'i-Shi'i fighting. Interestingly, the Marja'iyya in Najaf, unlike in 2005, declined to endorse any slate of candidates. In 2005, Sayyid Sistani & Co. backed the United Iraqi Alliance, a loose coalition of mostly Shi'i religious parties dominated by Da'wa and the SIIC. Al-Maliki made a concerted effort to build bridges with tribal leaders, which may have something to do with his electoral victory. National parliamentary elections are set for December. Parties associated with the so-called Majalis al-Sahwa seem to have done well, as have secular parties.
Al-Jazeera English on the elections:
Official Da'wa Party crowing about victory:
Notice Da'wa's highlight of the martyred Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr:
Juan Cole critiques the (crappy) coverage in the U.S. & some British press, which have said the provincial elections are a "defeat for Iran" and a triumph for "secular parties" (Da'wa is an Islamist party; it's far from secular):
Finally, for those interested in looking at primary Arabic materials, see the SIIC's web site (http://www.almejlis.org/), the web site of its Badr Corps paramilitary wing (http://badrtoday.net/), and the web site of Tayyar al-Sadri (http://al3marh.net/news/). Notice how the SIIC emphasizes the role of Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr on its Badr web site.