What is Iraqi cleric Sadr's latest political endgame?

Iraqi Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr is calling for elections, months after polls failed to lead to an agreement on a new government, prime minister and president.

As Sadr’s supporters occupy parliament for a sixth day, is the powerful cleric bluffing? Or could his call see a negotiated end to months of political deadlock in the oil-rich but impoverished country?

– Why urge an early vote?

In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, government formation has involved complex negotiations since a 2003 US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Sadr’s bloc emerged from elections in October as the biggest parliamentary faction, but still far short of a majority.

In June, his 73 lawmakers quit in a bid to break a logjam over establishment of a new government.

That led to a rival Shiite bloc, the pro-Iran Coordination Framework, becoming the largest in parliament.

Its nomination of former cabinet minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister angered the Sadrists and triggered their occupation of parliament.

“Sadr expects to be the senior partner in any new government. Otherwise he will continue to block government formation,” said assistant professor Fanar Haddad of the University of Copenhagen.

“Likewise, he cannot allow parliament to reconvene without his MPs.”

Parliament can only be dissolved by a majority vote, according to the constitution. Such a vote can take place at the request of a third of lawmakers, or by the prime minster with the president’s agreement.

According to Ihsan al-Shammari, a political scientist at the University of Baghdad, Sadr’s call for early elections aims to ensure “his return to parliament with more seats than before”.

– What’s the stance of Sadr’s opponents?

The Coordination Framework alliance includes lawmakers from the party of former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, a longtime foe of Sadr, and the Hashed al-Shaabi, a pro-Iran ex-paramilitary network now integrated into the security forces.

Hamdi Malik and Michael Knights of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy say the Framework is divided.

Its hardliners are led by Maliki — whose proxy is Sudani — and Qais al-Khazali, head of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq force which is part of the Hashed.

They favour a “confrontational stance” that includes forming a government and purging Sadr’s followers from state agencies, the analysts wrote.

Thousands of their supporters marched through Baghdad Monday in a protest against Sadr’s actions.

However, the views of another camp within the Coordination Framework appear to be ascendant.

They favour “a slowing-down of the government formation process and an attempt to bring the Shiite house back closer together by wooing Sadr with inducements”, Malik and Knights said of this group, led by Hadi al-Ameri, who heads a Hashed faction.

Shammari said that if the Framework opposes holding early elections, this would be in the hope of gaining concessions such as changes to the electoral law, the election commission, “or even on formation of the government”.

Haddad notes that Iraqi politics “often skirt the edge of the abyss before the actors involved decide to resolve their differences behind closed doors”.

A deal between Sadr and the Coordination Framework is still possible, he says.

– Risk of violence?

Political scientist Ali al-Baidar said that what happens next depends on Sadr’s adversaries.

“If they persist, Sadr can escalate and paralyse the executive, paralyse the capital,” Baidar said.

He views the occupation of parliament as a “warning addressed to the political class about what could occur if they don’t respect Mr Sadr’s wishes”.

With armed groups linked to the various political factions in Iraq, the United Nations has warned about the risk of political tensions escalating.

But analysts say Iran, which backs groups in the Coordination Framework, doesn’t want violence.

Tehran will seek to “prevent the Coordination Framework and particularly the armed factions, of getting to the point of confrontation”, Shammari said.

But clashes could still erupt and might be difficult to control, he added.


US strike kills two senior IS officials in Syria: CENTCOM

A US airstrike killed two senior Islamic State jihadist group officials in Syria on Thursday, the military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said. “US forces conducted a successful airstrike in northern Syria, killing both Abu-Hashum al-Umawi, a deputy Wali of Syria, and another senior ISIS official associated with him,” CENTCOM said ...

View more: US strike kills two senior IS officials in Syria: CENTCOM

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, blames US for 'escalation'

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Thursday and claimed its recent blitz of sanctions-busting tests were necessary countermeasures against joint military drills by the United States and South Korea. As the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Pyongyang’s Tuesday launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, North ...

View more: North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, blames US for 'escalation'

SIMBA Chain awarded SpaceWERX Orbital Prime Contract

SIMBA Chain announces it has been selected by SpaceWERX for a STTR Phase I in the amount of $250,000 to investigate how SIMBA’s blockchain technology may enable In-space Service Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM) capabilities being explored by the Department of the Air Force (DAF) and United States Space Force ...

View more: SIMBA Chain awarded SpaceWERX Orbital Prime Contract

Overlapping galaxies VV 191 in Webb and Hubble composite image

By combining data from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, researchers were able to trace light that was emitted by the large white elliptical galaxy on the left through the spiral galaxy on the right and identify the effects of interstellar dust in ...

View more: Overlapping galaxies VV 191 in Webb and Hubble composite image

Satellite launch marks SpaceX's third liftoff in 2 days

SpaceX is scheduled to launch two communication satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday in its third liftoff in two days. The 7 p.m. blastoff is slated to deliver the Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites into geosynchronous orbit, where they will help the telecommunications company ...

View more: Satellite launch marks SpaceX's third liftoff in 2 days

Kleos Observer Mission satellite cluster ready for launch integration

Kleos Space S.A (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) and Mission-as-a-Service (MaaS) provider, announces that its fourth cluster of four satellites, the Observer Mission (KSF3), is ready to be shipped to the launch site after successfully completing environmental test phases. The Observer Mission satellites ...

View more: Kleos Observer Mission satellite cluster ready for launch integration

Nearly 200 dead in Niger floods

Flooding caused by heavy rains in the West African state of Niger has claimed nearly 200 lives and affected more than a quarter of a million people, the Civil Protection Service said on Thursday, describing the toll as one of the highest on record. Rainy-season floods claimed 192 lives, ...

View more: Nearly 200 dead in Niger floods

'Nobody dares speak out': Exiled Chinese writer decries censorship

Murong Xuecun was one of the brightest stars of China’s literary scene, his novels offering searing critiques of contemporary social issues that few other writers dared to imitate. But after a decade of diminishing freedom of speech under President Xi Jinping, he could not publish in his own country ...

View more: 'Nobody dares speak out': Exiled Chinese writer decries censorship

'Malign influence': China's cultural institutes under growing scrutiny

Cosmic Clash Between Hunter Moon, Draconid Meteor To Fill Earth Skies This Weekend

Xi's 'final purge' ahead of Chinese Communist Party congress

Who is China's President Xi Jinping?

After the floods, a wave of disease plagues Pakistan

Study: Climate change contributed to global drought in 2022

GMV joins UN Global Compact

'Mega China': Country's research into dark matter

Ask Ethan: Why do galaxies spin?

Sarah Sharkey

China's smart farming revives traditional rice brand

SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch US Space Force’s USSF-44—First Use of Rocket in 3 Years


Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network