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Strident critic of the U.S. leads Iraqi election

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

Preliminary results show that the coalition of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has surprisingly emerged as the front-runner in Iraq’s first national parliamentary election since the defeat of ISIS, leading incumbent Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi who's backed by the West, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Sadr did not formally run. But if the coalition maintains the lead, Sadr has the ability to influence the make-up of Iraq’s next government. The Post notes that Sadr, a staunch critic of Washington, had commanded a militia that fought against American troops during the Iraq war. Final election results are expected Monday. [Go deeper: What's to know about Iraq's election]

Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Moqtada al-Sadr would lead the next government if his coalition wins.