Worsening Political Situation in Iraq

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - The Worsening Political Situation in Iraq

Leader of the Sadrist Movement in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, described on Sunday 31 July his supporters’ storming of the parliament building as an opportunity to fundamentally change the political system in the country. Al-Sadr's supporters stormed the council's headquarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad on Saturday 30 July 30 for the second time in days and announced an open sit-in in protest against the nomination of the former leader of the Da’awah Party, Muhammad Shia' Al-Sudani for the position of prime minister. Muqtada al-Sadr addressed the Iraqis by saying: "Oh, free, proud people who love reform, democracy, citizenship, law, independence, sovereignty, grandeur, and confining arms to a strong patriarchal state that imposes law on itself before the poor and does not exclude the influential, militias and the like. You are all responsible and all of you are at stake." He concluded by saying: "Either an Iraq lofty among nations, or a vassal Iraq controlled by the corrupt, collaborators and those with worldly ambitions, or even an Iraq controlled by the hands of outsiders, east and west."
In fact, Iraq is still suffering from the consequences of the American occupation and its fallouts which resulted from America's harnessing of Iran and the "Shiite" forces to overthrow the Baathist regime in 2003, within the scheme of reshaping the Middle East, and the exigencies of the regional solution which required dismantling and weakening the region, terrifying its regimes and forcing them to conclude an alliance and normalise their relations with the Zionist entity, while clipping Iran’s wings after she had persisted in oppressing the people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, and after America had used her to stoke the sectarian strife and projected her as a more ferocious and more dangerous enemy than the Zionist entity to the people of the region within a functional agenda that provided a pretext for the Arab regimes to sidestep the “Arab Initiative” that stipulated a settlement with the Palestinian Authority before the alliance, full normalisation, and regional integration.

What is occurring in Iraq is a tussle between the tools of the political game pertinent to the guardianship of American interests. In other words, it is akin to the struggle between concubines over the favours of the American sponsor. Al-Sadr is working towards restoring Iraq to her Arab surroundings while the Coordination Framework led by Nuri al-Maliki is working towards achieving the interests of the United States through the gates of Iran whose role in serving the United States has enabled her to privilege her surrogates at the expense of their opponents and harness them in her nationalist, sectarian and political agenda, especially that she took charge of the confrontation with “Daesh” on behalf of America, and was the official sponsor of the “Shia” opposition forces since the Iraq-Iran war and the second Gulf War in 1991, in addition to embracing the “Iraqi Da’wah Party”, whose safe haven was Iran all along, and which was closer to her than the Sadrist Movement and the Shia forces that harboured some apprehensions towards the Shia authorities with Persian inclinations.

It is common knowledge that as a consequence of Iran's support for the American projects in the region, especially the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran and her proxies have secured a host of expedient, sectarian and nationalist interests. However, preserving these gains has become a discordant request that clashed with the American policy pertinent to the nature of the regional and international phase which is the reason why she was hemmed in by the United States and targeted by "Israel", and which is also the reason why Putin has been attempting to win her over and widen the wedge in her relationship with the United States and the Arab countries. As for the divided Iraqi political milieu, most of its men came on the backs of American tanks after the American military governor, Paul Bremer, had formed the Transitional Governing Council which brought about the current sectarian quota constitution, according to which the three presidencies were established, namely the presidency of the state for the "Kurds", the prime minister for the "Shia" and the presidency of the House of Representatives for the "Sunnah".

Since the beginning of the political process in Iraq, a dispute cropped up between Muqtada al-Sadr and his political opponents. The dispute developed into a military confrontation between the Sadrist Movement and the government, which was backed by the American army. The dispute only ended when Muqtada al-Sadr decided to dissolve the Mahdi Army, the militia affiliated with him. His opponents' presence was reinforced and their strength increased, especially after “Daesh” had emerged and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) linked to Iran had been formed. The PMF was the largest militia in Iraq since its invasion by the Americans but they later constituted a burden on the Iraqi government, forcing it to integrate them into the Iraqi forces in an attempt to contain them and prevent Iran from influencing them to the point that America was compelled to threaten them with force by assassinating Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on 3 January 2020.
However, the Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, has begun a detour towards Iraq’s Arab environment since 2017 in harmony with the policy of trimming Iran's wings in the region. Muqtada al-Sadr initiated a new phase of the conciliatory discourse between "Sunnis" and "Shias", condoning Abu Bakr and Omar, and drawing closer to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates which sent him an official invitation to visit them. Saudi offered during that visit millions of dollars to help the displaced under the pretext of combating “Daesh”, provided that the Iraqi government would receive the funds. This support enabled later the government of al-Kadhimi (the CIA man) to continue working to weaken Iran’s grip and undermine her influence. This provoked Iran and drove her to commit a host of violent reactions which made her appear as an enemy to the Iraqis who sided with the Sadrist Movement in the recent elections and bolstered the credentials of the camp supporting reconciliation with Arab countries, the regional solution and the Zionist integration in the region.

On November 30, the Iraqi Electoral Commission announced that the Sadrist Movement had won 73 seats to become the largest parliamentary bloc in the Iraqi parliament. Accordingly, it strived to form a majority government with the “Sunni parties” led by Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi and the Kurdistan Democratic Party to marginalize the “Shia factions” backed by Iran who gathered under the banner of the Coordination Framework. However, this bloc, i.e., the Coordination Framework, which dreaded losing the influence of its parties and its financial and economic gains, succeeded in forming a "blocking third" of the parliament and prevented the parliamentary quorum from being completed to vote on a new president, and nominated Muhammad Shi’a al-Sudani for prime minister which provoked the Sadrist Movement and prompted it to withdraw from parliament to obstruct the Coordination Framework endeavour to form the government and move the confrontation to the streets, which led to aggravating the situation with both sides resorting to flexing their muscles, especially after recordings of former Prime Minister and Coordinating Framework leader Nuri al-Maliki were leaked in which he exposed Muqtada al-Sadr and threatened a bloody clash, which he expressed by appearing armed two days ago in the Green Zone after the Sadr group stormed the parliament, and after the Sadrist Movement had threatened an open sit-in in protest against al-Sudani's candidacy. The Coordination Framework responded by accusing the Sadrist Movement of hijacking the state and called for demonstrations to defend the state and its institutions whose cornerstones are held by the Coordination Framework. He added in a statement, "The recent developments herald a plan for staging a suspicious coup, hijacking the state, abolishing its legitimacy, humiliating its constitutional institutions, and cancelling the democratic process therein." He also mobilised his popular bases by saying: "Be faithful to the covenant and the promise, no way we will allow to be humiliated; our meeting shall be tomorrow, Monday, at five in the afternoon on the walls of the Green Zone.”

It has become clear from all of this that the Sadrist Movement has entered into a bone-breaking battle to restructure the regime based on “citizenship” that undermines the sectarian foundation which had enabled Iran to gain influence and affect the decision-making of the Iraqi state. The actions of Muqtada al-Sadr are consistent with the American efforts aimed at controlling political life in Iraq. This will put an end to the Iranian influence, which is alien to her functional role in Iraq and the entire region. It is possible that the tension and the escalation will continue not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Syria due to the repercussions of the US international policy regarding China and Russia, which may provide pretexts and ammunitions for Iranian stubbornness on the grounds of common interests on the issues of the region, and given the tense regional situation on the Lebanese-"Israeli" side regarding the disputed gas areas, which are linked to the fate of Lebanon and its economic and political crisis, the pressing European need for energy alternatives, the jostling between eastern Mediterranean countries over gas reserves and its supply routes, and the follow-on escalation between "Israel" and Hezbollah and its sponsors in Syria and Iran.

Hence, do the leaders of Iraq, who have been tools in America’s hands, think about sabotaging Iraq further and sowing discord among her people to achieve immediate goals under the pretext of injustice? Do they believe that America will let them do what they want? They are woolgathering because all those who collaborated with America ended up wanting to curl up and die after they had been depleted in serving America and achieving her interests; and once their functional role ended, they were thrown into the ash heap of history.

Is it not high time the “Sunni” and “Shia” Iraqis renounced division, thwarted the plots of the Americans and the Iranians, rescued the country and the people from depraved schemes that seek to inflict ruin and destruction on Iraq and its people, and followed together in the footsteps of their ancestors who taught the British harsh lessons when they wanted to occupy Iraq last century?

4 Muharram 1444h                                                 hizbuttahrir.org
2 August 2022