Muqtada Sadr makes use of private diplomacy searching for Iraqi deal

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The United Nation particular consultant in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met immediately, Dec. 7, with the Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, whose occasion received the most important numbers of seats within the latest parliamentary elections.

The UN is making an attempt to assist type the subsequent authorities, following the impasse amongst Iraqi political leaders. The Oct. 10 elections led to a exceptional victory for Sadr with 72 seats, which pushed Fatah block (affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Units) to type an alliance with Nouri Maliki’s State of Law. The two teams collectively have 59 seats.

Now, the Shiite political scene is split into two foremost teams: Sadrists and the alliance between PMU and Maliki, which is known as the Coordination Framework.

Sadr is in search of a majority authorities, which means that he would ally with Kurds and Sunnis, leaving the Coordination Framework because the parliamentary opposition. But the Coordination Framework is in search of consensual authorities, which implies all take part within the subsequent authorities.

On Nov. 30, the Independent High Electoral Commission introduced the last outcomes of the legislative elections, displaying the lack of the political events allied with Iraq’s Shiite factions.

Just a few hours later, the Shiite Coordination Framework, which incorporates armed events and factions, declared its rejection of the outcomes. Meanwhile, Sadr confirmed that the elections have been “fair,” calling on the “losing” events to not permit the outcomes to be the top of democracy in Iraq.

Shiite factions identified for being near Iran have been demonstrating for over a month now, denouncing the election outcomes and threatening the federal government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi, accusing it of “election fraud.”

On Dec.2, Sadrist motion leaders met with the leaders of the Coordination Framework, together with the chief of Asaib Ahl al-Haq faction, Qais Khazali; the top of State of Law Coalition, Nuri al-Maliki; and the top of Fatah bloc, Hadi Ameri. The assembly was a bid to interrupt the impasse between the 2 sides. 

The head of the Iraqi Consultative Council, Farhad Alaeddin, advised Al-Monitor, “Sadr is looking for a political solution that would lead to the cabinet formation [where] those opposing the election’s results might get a greater share of power in next cabinet in a way that satisfies them.”

“Sadr will, at a later stage, discuss with them the naming of the prime minister, and may agree with them that choice of premier would be done in agreement with them,” he added. 

Rahmah al-Jubouri, a former senior researcher on the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, mentioned, “The Shiite Coordination Framework might have accepted the election outcomes,” but they want a cabinet similar to previous ones rather than a Sadr-controlled government.

“Should Sadr takes control of the government and the state in general, he will likely face a dangerous confrontation with the armed factions — something that he does not want,” he added.

Sadr does not wish to miss this opportunity, but at the same time he is not willing to comply with all of the Shiite Coordination Framework’s demands, which is why he is carefully trying  to win the opposing parties over.

Observers believe that the factions affiliated with Iran are likely to escalate against the United States’ interests in Iraq. However, they believe that the real intention is to make gains in the upcoming government.

Informal discussions between Sadr and the Shiite Coordination Framework have yet to reveal any agreement on cabinet formation. But according to information obtained by Al-Monitor, “parties close to Iran will not be affected much in the next government formation, that is, they will not lose their influence in the executive branch.”

Sources who spoke to Al-Monitor said, “The parties are not as interested in the election results or the name of the new prime minister, as much as they are in preserving their power in the coming cabinet. They spoke of ‘threatening the communal peace.’” 

Sadr is trying to take advantage of the differences within the Shiite Coordination Framework in a bid to form his own cabinet, which is what Iran’s allies fear.

Ihsan al-Shammari, head of theIraqi Centre for Political Thought, advised Al-Monitor, “Sadr is seeking to secure the half plus one of the cabinet quorum in order to pass the laws he wants. Meanwhile, the Shiite Coordination Framework, especially Nouri al-Maliki, do not want that, which means that there won’t be full agreement on the cabinet formation.”

Shammari continued, “Sadr’s meeting with the factions’ heads came to alleviate the tension, but this does not suggest there has been a final agreement on everything.”

Sadr is in search of “consensus’ with major forces within the Shiite Coordination Framework, such as the State of Law; the National Wisdom Movement led by Ammar Hakim (who will not be part of the next cabinet according to information to Al-Monitor); as well as the Fatah Alliance, led by Hadi al-Amiri, the Ataa Movement led by Faleh al-Fayyad, and the Islamic Virture Party led by cleric Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.

Sadr, however, does not appear to be interested in an agreement with the Hezbollah Brigades, or other armed groups that rejected the election results, which suggests that he is seeking a rapprochement with parties with political rather than armed influence, to form a cabinet and defuse the political tension. This seems particularly true even if the armed factions escalate military action against diplomatic missions or US military bases.

According to sources within the Shiite Coordination Framework who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The framework somewhat accepted the election results, but does not wish to give up the gains it had made in previous governments.” 

“The Shiite Coordination Framework wants to keep heading the same parliamentary committees as it previously did, even if its number of seats does not qualify for this. It is seeking the same thing in the executive branch,” the sources added.

It seems that rigidity between Sadr and the armed factions is prone to persist, however it’s unlikely that issues would degenerate right into a full-on conflict.


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