Prospect of Forming Government in Iraq after Withdrawal of Sadr Movement from Political Process

2022/06/24 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An expert on Iraq affairs, stating that the current situation leads the Shiite currents to form a government, noted: Shiite groups seek to form a government with the opportunity that has been created, and increasing the number of seats will give them this opportunity, but it is not clear what policy the Sadr Movement wants to pursue outside the political process towards the formation of the government.

Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mohammad Baqer Sedaqat, referring to a decree issued by the speaker of Iraqi parliament regarding the end of the membership of the Sadr Movement, said: Although in social networks affiliated with Muqtada Sadr Movement, news has been published on the new reaction of the movement for the next two weeks, is unlikely that Muqtada Sadr would reverse his decision to step down from the political process, and their new decision in the next two weeks is not to retreat resignation.

Saying that no reference has been made to the details of the decision to be announced in the next two weeks, he added: Muqtada Sadr had failed to achieve the goals he had set for himself and formed an alliance with the Kurds and Sunnis that could lead to the formation of a government. His affiliated movement has been present in key Iraqi ministries since 2004, and although they have announced resignation every few years, his party and political affiliate have never resigned from key positions in the Iraqi government.

Failure of Sadr Movement to fulfill political demands

The analyst of Iraq affairs said: The power and financial resources of the Sadr Movement come from holding government positions, therefore they do not seek to relinquish key positions in power, but they have demands such as becoming prime minister and expanding their influence in the government body, which they have not been able to acquire through coalition.

Regarding the consequences of Muqtada Sadr’s resignation from the political process on the public opinion of the Iraqi people and their supporters, Sedaqat said: The popular body of the Sadr Movement look at Muqtada Sadr with a holistic view, as the resignations and lack of intellectual independence of the Sadr Movement has increased in the past twenty years, the early elite currents have distanced themselves from them, and now there has remained a body of them with not that much elites and with those who have only a sanctimonious view of their leader.

Possibility of shifting coalitions in coming days

Regarding the possibility of shifting coalitions in the coming days with the aim of reaching an agreement on forming a government, the researcher of the Mersad Research Institute said: In the previous phase, when Sadr Movement was present in the parliament, it was the toughest to deal with other currents, but it seems that with the withdrawal of Sadr and the change in the composition of parliament, as well as the increase in the number of representatives of Shiite groups, Sadr allies and supporters of Mr. Halbousi would find themselves in a weaker position. This increases the likelihood of their presence at the negotiating table and leads the political process through mutual concessions.

He described the sincerity of Sadr’s parliamentary allies as unlikely to align with him outside the political process, explaining: They have a number of representatives and factions in the parliament and have won seats for themselves and it does not seem that by losing such an opportunity they would go to the options that Sadr Movement is going to; because they do not have a popular body like Sadr Movement.

The expert on Iraq affairs, saying that some are talking about the possibility of early elections in Iraq, added: It seems that instead of the number of representatives of the Sadr Movement, other deputies will be replaced in the parliament and the parliament can continue its work, but it is not yet clear whether the Sadr Movement wants to take steps outside the parliament and legal and political processes, such as the demonstrations in 2016 and 2019, to prevent formation of the government or not?

Regarding the possibility of the success of the Shiite coordination framework for forming a government in the event that Sadr groups are likely to organize opposition to them, Sedaqat said: Shiite groups are seeking formation of a government with the opportunity created and the increase in the number of seats will give them that opportunity. They do not want early elections; because then we will probably see less public participation and acceptance. At the same time, dissolving the parliament and holding other elections will be costly for Iraq.

Movement of Shiite currents towards formation of a government

The analyst of Iraq affairs, saying that the current situation is leading the Shiite currents to form a government and that they cannot wait any longer, continued: Nouri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri have differences with each other, but in the current situation those issues will not prevent formation of a government.

Referring to the popular protests in Iraq over economic and livelihood issues and the escalation of some problems despite the political stalemate in the country, he added: In the summer, service problems in Iraq reach their peak, especially due to problems with electricity and water which prepare ground for more popular protests. Popular protests are now sparking in Iraq, but the non-Sadr demonstrators of the October protests are confronting it, emphasizing that the demonstrations at this juncture will be in the interest of the political currents, especially the Sadr Movement.

Sedaqat stressed: The political process in post-Saddam Iraq and the inexperience of the society towards the parliamentary government and partisanship on the one hand and the inexperience of politicians in playing a role in the new political system and also lack of a political program based on a specific ideology, on the other hand, cause political unrest in various critical moments in the Iraqi political arena and sometimes political obstruction, and those areas do not seem to be resolved in the near future.  The political situation in Iraq will not calm down until the political currents and their social body can successfully overcome the transition from tyranny to democracy.

He reminded: In the past, personalities outside the Iraqi political system, such as Ayatollah Sistani and the martyr Haj Qassem Soleimani, used to prepare the way out of political crises, but now the political turmoil among different groups and parties in Iraq has become more apparent.

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