There has been no functioning government in Iraq for ten long months, and tensions between Shiite factions have intensified lately. On the one hand, the nationalist cleric Muqtada Sadr’s millions of supporters, influence and money, on the other hand, groups close to Iran and former Prime Minister Nuri Maliki.
Sadr supporters occupied the Iraqi parliament building for the second time last week. The cleric urged them to insist on the blockade until their demands for the dissolution of parliament and the call for new elections are met. In the following lines, we will try to answer who is who in the uncertain Iraqi politics and what the current tension can bring.
How did the current tension arise?
Following the victory of cleric Muqtada Sadr’s bloc in the elections last October, there were long months of political stalemate with Shiite groups failing to agree on cooperation. Famous for his opposition to the American occupation, Sadr denies any form of foreign influence on Iraq, including Iranian influence. Therefore, they do not want to cooperate with other Shiite groups, which they see as Iran’s extended hand, they will be, among others, former prime minister Nouri Maliki.
However, neither Sadr nor his opponents succeeded in forming a government. In June, Sadr therefore instructed his deputies to leave the Legislative Assembly. After them, dozens of seats in the parliament were occupied by deputies from pro-Iranian groups.
They agree on Mohammed Sudani’s candidacy for prime minister, but Sadr’s supporters see him as Iran’s servant. In July, mass protests broke out on the streets, and then plasterers entered the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad, where government buildings and embassies are located, and occupied the parliament building.
Who are Sadr’s rivals?
The bloc, whose name can be translated as Cooperation Framework, includes, for example, former Prime Minister Nuri Maliki, whose Dawa party dominated the country after 2003. To the easy success of the terrorist Islamic State, which in 2014 the Sunni areas of Iraq hailed as liberators from the Shiite government that many Iraqis hated. Maliki is close to Iran and some armed groups.
The bloc also includes Hadi Amiri, the leader of the Badr organization, which forms part of the heavily armed Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization of pro-Iranian groups. Another important figure is Sadr’s former ally in the fight against American soldiers, Kais Chazali, who eventually broke away from Sadr and formed his own military-political organization, which also has an important representation in the parliament, writes the New Arab presenter.
In addition to politicians linked to paramilitary groups, the bloc includes moderate politicians like Haidar Abadi, another former prime minister who led the country during the victory over the criminal caliphate in 2017.
what about the united states
While there were 170,000 troops in the country at the time of the US invasion of Iraq, only 2,000 remain today to assist Iraqi security forces in the fight against IS’s constantly threatening cells.
In the past, Americans were also involved in forming governments, but in recent years they have been sidelined according to Iraqi officials. According to Governor Nasr, a Middle East expert at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, Iraq is no longer a priority for the United States. The Americans do not interfere in the conflict between the feuding Shiite groups, the embassy in Baghdad urged them only to refrain from violence and try to solve problems by peaceful means.
The Islamic State has not cleared the battlefield and remains active
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In an interview with the Reuters agency, Hamdi Málik, another expert at the Washington Institute think tank, noted the signs of restraint on both sides, as well as the risk of civil war.
“Any civil war between Shiite factions will have a profound impact not only on the people of Iraq, but also on the entire region and even other parts of the world, especially because of the possible disruption of oil supplies,” he recalls. Most of Iraq’s oil wealth comes from Shiite populated areas. In a civil war and its aftermath, it would no doubt help mobilize the followers of the Islamic State, which is still quite large in the Sunni provinces.
Ranj Alaaldin, an expert from the Brookings Institution think tank quoted by CNN, also talks about the collapse of the Iraqi political system and the danger of war between Sadr and pro-Iranian groups.
Source: Seznam Zpravy
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