The mistakes of al-Sadr and al-Maliki: What do they want from Iraq?

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

There is neither a civil war in Iraq nor a Shiite-Shiite battle at the moment despite the parade of arms, the occupation of the Parliament, and the most protected “Green Zone” in the capital Baghdad by Sadrist demonstrators. However, this does not mean that a clash in the street between the demonstrators is excluded, at a certain point, as the “Sadrist movement” calls on the demonstrators to stay on the streets and to occupy the parliament. However, the Shiite “coordinating framework” (the other Shia groups opposing the Sadrists) will not remain idle, depending on the development of the situation and what the Sadrist group wants. Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr says he wants to rule the country or no one else can. He is walking on the edge of the abyss, probably aiming unwittingly for new parliamentary elections. This is matched by the insistence of former Prime Minister and vice President Nuri al-Maliki to proceed with the election of a new government, taking advantage of al-Sadr’s mistake to withdraw from Parliament. Where are things going in Iraq, and what do the two sides want? Will the Shiites be responsible for the chaos in the country?

The Sadrist movement won the parliamentary elections with the highest number of representatives obtained by any single party (73 parliamentary seats). The Federal Court confronted it with a constitutional interpretation: any political party has the right to grow its allies – even after the election of the President of the Republic –and claim to become the one who elects the Prime Minister provided it manages to gather the most significant number of MPs under one coalition.

Notwithstanding the Federal Court’s interpretation of the constitution, Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr brought together an alliance of Kurds and Sunnis and became the largest coalition with the right to choose the country’s leaders. However, the Federal Court came up with a new interpretation that gives any parliamentary group that owns the blocking third to prevent the session of electing the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic for not having a quorum.

Sayyid Muqtada found himself unable to proceed alone with his Sunni and Kurdish allies to form the government, and it was no longer possible to bypass the other Shiite parties. Thus, he announced the worst decision he has ever taken to ask all his MPs to resign and gave all his seats to other Shia parties. The previously frightened “coordinating framework” became enthusiastically excited and grabbed the opportunity to collect most of the 73 seats and become the one who elects the President and prime Minister.

It seems that Sayyed Muqtada was on the lookout. But either he miscalculated and regretted his step to withdrawing from Parliament, and here he is sheltering in the street to prevent the “coordinating framework” from choosing the new leaders. Or he was planning for that and wanted in advance to re-run the parliamentary elections and believes the manifestations are this way to reach his objective. However, Al-Sadr is mistaken in his decision to run new parliamentary elections because he might earn 10-20 extra seats but will never become the sole decision-maker who has no need of any other political party to choose Iraq’s leaders.

Al-Sadr does not seek to fight the corruption of which he is also accused of being part because he has participated in all previous governments. Moreover, Sayyed Moqtada allied himself in the last elections with Masoud Barzani, who is accused of corruption and of selling Iraqi oil without accountability to Turkey and Israel. Therefore, Sayyed Moqtada’s goal is to rule Iraq as the only Shiite leader and he may not hesitate to use violence to lead, which he did in 2004 in the holy city of Najaf.

On the other hand, former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also wants power for himself. No one within the “coordinating framework” wants Al-Maliki to return as a Prime Minister again because the last years of his rule proved his desire for a monopoly on power. Moreover, the Marjaiya in Najaf refused his return to power under the slogan “Iraq should not bring back to power those already tainted”. Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani wrote a letter to all Shia political parties (in 2015) asking to confirm the rejection of the return of al-Maliki as a Prime Minister. But al-Maliki considers that since he has reached the age of 72, it is his last chance to return 

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