Is Iraq heading for chaos?

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

After eight months of political bickering, Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr climbed down from his tree and turned the tables by prompting his 73 deputies to submit their resignation as a first step. This move would be followed by escalatory steps in due course, as part of Moqtada’s habitual policy, to go for his preferred option: call his followers onto the streets and attain parliamentary re-election, hoping to obtain a majority to rule Iraq unchallenged by other Shia groups. This cannot happen overnight without some kind of confrontation that will undoubtedly create chaos, instability and internal turmoil in Iraq.

Following the results of the parliamentary elections, where the Sadrist movement won 73 of 329 seats, representing the highest number among all the political parties, Muqtada al-Sadr believed he had won the elections. Consequently, Sayyed Moqtada thought he had the right to choose the Speaker, the President and the Prime Minister in agreement with a Sunni-Kurdish alliance. The Sadrist leader excluded all the other Shiite parties so that he would become the sole Shiite ruler of Iraq. However, he did take the initiative to visit all the Shiite parties. He asked them to join him without the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (Moqtada removed the veto on al-Maliki later, but the animosity remained).

Al-Sadr did that only because the parties he was asked to join with his group were weak without Al-Maliki and therefore easier to control. Sayyed Moqtada believed that his pre-election solidarity agreement with Hadi al-Amiri (the “al-Fatah” group leader who enjoys popularity and political stature that al-Sadr appreciates) was a clever move to keep a distance from other Shiite parties loyal to Iran. However, Al-Amiri vetoed the agreement and joined the coalition of Shiite parties collectively under the “Coordination Framework”. Subsequently, a Shiite bloc was formed, asking Al-Sadr to join the groups to participate in the government according to his “parliamentary size”. This is precisely what the Sadrist leader had rejected from the start.

However, Sayyed Muqtada noticed the influence that Maliki had built throughout his two terms of ruling as prime minister. This appeared at the first meeting of the House of Representatives when President Mahmoud al-Mashhadani left the session to disrupt it after he accused one of the Sadrists’ MPs of assaulting him. The aim was to blow up the meeting and prevent Moqtada from self-declaring the largest group to his MPs. However, the Federal Court decided it was legal for another Speaker, the oldest after al-Mash’hadani, to take over and secure the session. Al-Sadr praised the court’s decision, which declared the legality of ratifying all deputies assuming their duties.

However, Sayyed Moqtada attacked Iran overtly before, during and after the elections without directly naming it by using the word “East” as a symbol of Iran’s geographical position concerning Iraq. Moqtada’s aggressive stand tickled the mood of his followers despite sending envoys to Tehran and Lebanon, who are in constant contact with officials who influence Iraq and can use their relations to remove obstacles if requested.

The Federal Court interfered again, but this time not in favour of Sayyed Moqtada, offering its interpretation of the “largest parliamentary bloc”. According to the Federal court, the largest bloc can be formed by independent MPs and political blocs getting together under the dome of Parliament in one single large coalition. This coalition can still be created even after the election of the President of the Republic but before the nomination of the candidate prime minister. The Federal court’s legal interpretation resulted in Muqtada’s loss of the largest parliamentary bloc, earned with 73 MPs. The Federal court’s interpretation undoubtedly served the interest of the “coordinating framework”, giving it the opportunity – yet to no avail – to attempt to ally with independents, Sunnis and Kurds so as to defeat al-Sadr. Sayyed Muqtada did not hesitate to ally with the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, Sunni Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi and Sunni leader Khamis Khanjar to counter the Federal 

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Proofread by: Maurice Brasher