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Analysis

Will Iraq’s Coordination Council Manage to Form Govt. after al-Sadr’s Walkout from Politics?

Monday 5 September 2022
Will Iraq’s Coordination Council Manage to Form Govt. after al-Sadr’s Walkout from Politics?

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Iraq Limbo: SCF Activities and Tangible Progress towards Stalemate End

Alwaght- Following an order by Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr to his supporters to end their street sit-ins in Baghdad's Green Zone, relative calm has returned to the capital and other cities' streets. However, the good news about the end of the street tensions does not mean undoing the Gordian knot of the political differences in Iraq and there are signs the limbo will continue. 

The country is undergoing the longest political crisis since 2003, the year the US invaded the country and toppled Saddam Hussein rule. 11 months after the general elections, the country is yet to form a government. 

Though al-Sadr's insistence on forming a "majority government" of his choice and the opposition of other major Shiite movements within the Shiite Coordination Framework (SCF) to monopolizing agenda have been the main obstacle to the formation of a new government, now even with his announcement of departure from politics, political developments show that the path to a transition from crisis is far from smooth yet. 

Parliament reopening and agenda challenges 

Forming a government of consensus and avoiding measures that lead to violation of the constitutional process for dissolution of the parliament have been central to the agenda of the SCF leaders in the negotiations with other political groups, and naturally the SCF's success to weather the al-Sadr and his allies' efforts to dissolve the parliament now gives the all-Shiite coalition better grounds to hold parliamentary sessions and choose president and prime minister. 

Ali al-Fatlawi, a member of the SCF, told Al-Arabi Al-Jadid news website that his coalition's efforts to form a government continue and the coalition has contacts with Sunnis and Kurds to resume parliamentary sessions as soon as possible. 

"The dissolution of the parliament requires a political consensus, and this should be done after the return of the parliament sessions and the formation of the new government and not now, and we, as the Coordination Framework coalition, insist on this," he was quoted as saying. 

Following al-Sadr's statement about walkout from the politics, Qais al-Khazali, the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq group's chief and a decision maker at the SCF, called on the reopening of parliament and forming a government in line with the constitution. "The current situation cannot continue," he asserted. 

Turki al-Atbi, another SCF member, told Baghdad Al-Yum that the painful incidents that swept through several Iraqi regions, especially Green Zone, express the urgency of forming a new government. A national government is capable of containing the crisis and presenting urgent solutions to end all the challenges the country is facing, he noted. 

The end of Green Zone incidents and the retreat of the protesters brings back the parliament sessions and sends assuring messages to the public who expect a fast move from the SCF and other political forces to work out a new cabinet to deal with the situation using realistic and fair solutions. 

However, amid the insistence of the representatives of the SCF on the quick restart of the parliament with the agenda of electing the president and forming a new cabinet, a part of the Kurdish and Sunni forces still want to continue the talks with Sadrist movement and obtain the consent of this movement to go through the process of forming the government. A-Arabi Al-Jadeed quoted one of the aides of the Sovereignty coalition under the leadership of Mohammad Al-Halbousi, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, as saying that despite the heavy pressure that has been exerted on Al-Halbousi to reconvene the parliament sessions, he still refuses to do so and emphasizes the need for a political agreement before resuming parliament sessions. 

Al-Halbousi told the SCF leadership that it is possible to resume the parliament sessions but without addressing the election of president and prime minister and formation of a new government and restricting the sessions to legislative debates and supervision. 

Al-Kadhimi's repeated initiative and the decisive ruling of Supreme Court 

Along with efforts of the SCF to mobilize the political process and move things forward for the transition from the 11-month crisis, Iraqi sources reported on Saturday a motion by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to hold a new round of talks between all political parties in order to find solutions to end the political deadlock. 

Al-Kadhimi contacted most of the political parties to pave the way for a new round of "political talks" next Monday, Iraqi media said. 

The new round of the PM's efforts to bring all the groups to the negotiating table comes as this initiative was tested earlier later in August, but in the midst of the acceptance of most of the political factions, al-Sadr refused to accept an agreement and started street protests to force his rivals to accept his conditions. Now, with al-Sadr's political estrangement and the announcement of his complete withdrawal from the world of politics, reports suggest that al-Kadhimi's requests to bring him to negotiations have received negative responses. 

Certainly, tying the resumption of efforts for a new government to Sadrist agreement will practically mean continuation of the political stalemate, flare-up of public discontentment, and the government duties non-accomplishment. 

Meanwhile, the important point is that although al-Sadr seeks full departure from the politics, some figures close to him still push for dissolution of the parliament and rejection of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the PM post. 

Mohammed Saleh Al-Iraqi, a politician close to al-Sadr who is called the "minister of the leader", attacked the SCF for its moves, saying "from today, know me and the movement your top enemy." 

Analysts suggest that al-Sadr may support the protest movement afresh without inviting it to storm the Green Zone to set up roadblocks ahead of a new government. 

However, Sadrists are frustrated with a result from the street protests and set their heart to the final ruling of the Supreme Court that is expected on Thursday about the conditions for dissolution of the parliament. Earlier, the Court's members had decided that dissolution of the parliament is constitutionally off their mandate and turned down al-Sadr's request. 

Now, the most important question is that how will the Sadrists react if the Supreme Court's ruling runs against their demands? 

While the Sadrists seek to show that they still can control the street protests and do not allow to be sidelined, it seems that the public tendency for transitioning from the street riots, reopening the parliament, and accelerating the government formation will finally bring other political factions to alignment with the SCF. 

 

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Iraq SCF Sadr Protests Government PM

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