Extraordinary international challenges await Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq 3/3

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

It will take some time for the new reality from the early Iraqi parliamentary elections to become evident and reveal surprising results that impose a new map of alliances that could define the next prime minister’s objectives. However, the Sadrist leader Sayed Moqtada al-Sadr has a roadmap that is far from being achievable. These challenges represent a severe burden to Sayed Moqtada. The next four years, and only if he manages to lead a coalition with the required number of MPs, may not suffice to solve the domestic and international challenges. Moreover, many voices arose recently, challenging the election results without necessarily asking to consider all results null. Nevertheless, Iraq’s regional and global challenges won’t advance very far, regardless of the official decision to acknowledge the results and move forward to selecting the prime minister.

The external challenges awaiting Iraq are perplexing, and their resonance reverberates in Baghdad and the neighbouring cities, pending the outcome of the upcoming consultations. These are the withdrawal of all US combat forces, Turkish occupation troops in Kurdistan-Iraq, the pursuit of solid relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran and finding the necessary balance in the relationship with those critical warring countries that enjoy influence in Iraq.

But the central question comes to the fore: Do the Middle Eastern and Western leaders understand the leader’s policy of the dominant Parliamentary Sadrist movement? Will western leaders trust their dealings with Sayed Moqtada if and when he becomes the king-maker in Iraq?

Al-Sadr will not form a new government without an alliance with the other Shia groups, including his political enemies or the Sunnis and the Kurds. This is indeed his desire and plans to unite with groups that hold the majority of MPs to reach 165 seats, even if his choices are not easily accessible. Indeed, if he cooperates with the Shia groups, his position towards the Sunni and the Kurds will be much more powerful, but he will have to fulfil their wishes. Otherwise, if he drops the Shia groups, the Sadrist leader will lose the Shia-umbrella coverage he needs if he forms a government with only the Sunni and the Kurds. These will assure the majority needed to create a government (plus a dozen MPs from other minor groups). However, Sayed Moqtada would find himself compelled by both options, contrary to what he already announced. He would soften his position on important issues, compromise and adopt a more flexible approach like his new partners, the Sunni and Kurds or (by negotiation with the Shia groups) to reduce their demands.

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