05 Sep Iraq political crisis
Context: Sadr’s followers storm the Iraq govt. palace.
A power struggle in Iraq between the influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Sadr and Iran-backed Shi’ite rivals has escalated with his supporters breaking into parliament and beginning an open-ended sit-in protest.
What is the tussle?
The tussle over who would form the next government has deepened a breach in the Shi’ite community that has dominated Iraqi politics since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Who is Sdr and who is opposing him?
- Sadr was the son of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, one of the most prominent religious figures in the Islamic world in the late 20th century. Sadr was greatly influenced by his father’s conservative thoughts and ideas and by those of his father-in-law, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, founder of the Islamic Daʿwah Party, who in 1980 was executed for his opposition to Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
- He holds great power in the state, where his supporters hold many positions. He has emphasized his credentials as an Iraqi nationalist in recent years, opposing the influence of both the United States and Iran.
- His Shi’ite rivals form an alliance called the Coordination Framework, which includes Tehran-aligned politicians such as former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and paramilitary groups armed and trained by Iran.
- Many of these groups’ ties to Tehran date to the Iran-Iraq war, when Iran supported Shi’ite insurgents against Saddam. Each side accuses the other of corruption.
Why has the standoff escalated?
- Even after getting most of the votes in the October -2021 polls, Al-Sadr’s party was short of a majority.
- Al- Sadr has also refused to work with rivals
- This party is opposed to Iranian influences on home politics.
- Shia parties supported by Iran, became popular after they helped. Defeated ISIS between 2014 and 2017.
- Recently, the Islamic Dawa party’s Mohamad al Sudani was nominated for the PM’s post of the coordination framework.
- Al Sadr and his supporters opposed the nomination.
- Islamic Dawa party backed the Iranian revolution and even supported Iraq -Iran was also majorly founded by Iran.
- Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani’s nomination provoked protests.
- He would need 165 out of 329 votes in the parliament to form govt.
What does this mean for Iraq?
- There is no government for the last nine months in Iraq-a record in the post-Saddam era.
- The standoff adds to political dysfunction in a country suffering dire public services, high poverty, and widespread unemployment despite huge oil wealth and no major conflict since Islamic State’s defeat five years ago.
- Ordinary people in Iraq meanwhile suffer power and water cuts. The World Food Programme says 2.4 million of the population of 39 million are in acute need of food and livelihood assistance.
How can it trigger violence?
- Disputes between Iraqi Shi’ites would be bad news for Iran, which has paved out major influence in Iraq through its Shi’ite allies since the United States toppled its rival Saddam.
- Iran, which has yet to comment on the latest developments, has previously intervened to quell internal unrest in Iraq.