What does Sadr's exit from the parliament mean for Iraq? – Analysis

6/15/2022 7:46:35 PM
 Muqtada Sadr, leader of the Sadr Movement.
Muqtada Sadr believed to form Iraq's first single-party-dominated government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2005, is now strengthening his rivals as his 73-strong parliamentary bloc collectively resigned.

On June 12, the Sadrists gave their resignation letters to the speaker of the parliament, and he signed them all together with the presence of the bloc's representative. 

Iraq's electoral law gives the votes of a former parliamentarian to a person placed second in the same electoral circle. The former parliamentarians' votes will be distributed over Sadr rivals, mostly pro-Iranian party candidates such as the Fatah Alliance, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, Kataib Hezbollah's Huqooq Movement, Halbusi's Taqaddum party, Emtedad, affiliated with some groups of the Tishreen movement, Ammar al-Hakim's Hikma bloc, and other small groups and independents.

After months of impasse, the Sadrist move might deepen, not soothe the political turmoil. Since the first Iraqi election in 2005, the aftermath of each election has gone south. A Sunni insurgency erupted after the first election, and conflict between Erbil and Baghdad emerged after the 2009 general elections. IS emerged following the 2014 elections. The 2021 general parliamentary election is beginning to introduce another turmoil into the Iraqi landscape. 

Ayad Allawi, leader of the National accord, said, "Sadr will take to the streets to get their rights, Sadr feels embarrassed because even after securing 73 seats in the parliament, he could not form the next government." 

"Iraq is now facing serious problems, and there is not a way to end the political issues," Allawi added. 

Sadr is known for his populist moves, the most recent being his entire bloc's resignation, a populist innovation. He is apt in mobilizing the streets and managing to win most of the votes. Iraqi streets might be filled with Sadrists in the coming days and weeks.  

Sadr's exit from the parliament was a shock to many who took Sadr's 73-strong seats for granted. The KDP, with 31 seats, allied with the Sadrist Movement, hoped to make a KDP a member of the next Iraqi president. A move staunchly opposed by the coordination framework, resulting in a dead-end. 

A Kurd has occupied the president of the republic since 2005. Shiite and Sunni parties have announced they would support any candidate the Kurds select. PUK's candidate for the president is Barham Salih, the incumbent president, and the KDP has worked with its allies to replace him with his candidate. This move has brought the process to a standstill. 

Sadr's withdrawal will open the way for the coordination framework to work with the Sunnis and the Kurds to form the next government and select the next president and prime minister. However, bickering among allied parties could jeopardize the process. 
The competition between Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah is very sharp. The relations between the KDP and the PUK, the main Kurdish parties, are consistently low, and their agreement on a candidate for the president is the first step in breaking the ice in forming the next cabinet. 
Sadr would use his popularity, especially among the Shiites, to stir the political arena. Lack of electricity, basic services, and a dusty and hot summer would only stoke his ambitions.

A government without the Sadr movement would be unstable, and a lack of agreement between the political parties would make early elections difficult. The caretaker government that has been ruling since October 2021 could continue ruling but with numerous challenges. 

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