Iraq returns to normality but a political solution is still a long way off
Calm reigns in Baghdad on Wednesday after around 24 hours of deadly violence in Iraq, but the political deadlock that has dragged on for almost a year shows little sign of easing, despite a new offer to end the crisis.
The unleashing of armed violence in the ultra-protected sector of the capital, which houses embassies and ministries, left 30 dead and nearly 600 injured in the ranks of supporters of Moqtada Sadr, the Shiite leader who set fire to the powder in announcing his “permanent retirement” from politics on Monday.
Proof, if one were needed, of his authority: the minute he ordered them to withdraw on Tuesday, the guns fell silent and the combatants deserted the Green Zone.
On Wednesday, the curfew decreed by the army was only a memory. Baghdad has returned to traffic jams, businesses have reopened and “school exams will resume”, as indicated by the Ministry of Education.
For nearly 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday, Moqtada Sadr’s Peace Brigades clashed with Iraqi army units and men from Hachd al-Chaabi, former pro-Iran paramilitaries integrated into regular troops.
This violence is the culmination of the political crisis that Iraq has been going through since the legislative elections of October 2021.
The country, rich in oil but overwhelmed by a social and economic crisis, still does not have a new Prime Minister or a new government.
Because the caciques of political Shiism, including Moqtada Sadr, failed to agree.
To get out of the crisis, Moqtada Sadr and his adversaries from the Coordination Framework, an alliance of pro-Iran parties, agree on one point: new elections are needed. But if Moqtada Sadr insists on dissolving parliament first, his rivals want the formation of a government first.
Tuesday evening, in a televised address, President Barham Saleh estimated that anticipated legislative news could “represent a way out of this overwhelming crisis”.
But before legislative elections are organized, Parliament must first be dissolved.
However, a dissolution can only be recorded by a vote of the deputies by an absolute majority, according to the Constitution. It can be requested by a third of elected officials or by the Prime Minister with the agreement of the President of the Republic.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi has threatened to resign if the political paralysis continues.
“If they want to continue to sow chaos, conflict, discord and rivalry … I will take the moral and patriotic measure that is necessary and leave my post at the appropriate time,” he said. in a speech.
– “Restrain the camels” –
But the intentions of the two major blocks of Shiism are difficult to reconcile.
On the one hand, the Coordination Framework sticks to its positions. In a statement released on Tuesday, its leaders reiterated their desire to form a government “that will undertake reforms and fight corruption”.
On the other, the sadrists are immediately without compass after the announcement of the “retirement” of their leader.
In his speech on Tuesday, in which he ended the violence, Moqtada Sadr made no attempt to engage in negotiations — on the surface at least.
And the “revolution” against the current political system and the corruption he called for seems to be just a memory.
“Shame on this revolution. No matter who initiated it, this revolution, as long as it is tainted with violence, is not a revolution,” he said in his speech.
On Wednesday, a close associate of Moqtada Sadr, Saleh Mohammed al-Iraki, was particularly offensive towards the Coordination Framework, calling on Iran to “hold back its Iraqi camels, otherwise there will be no room for regrets”. .
The Coordination Framework is the political window of Hachd al-Chaabi, whose proximity to Iran ulcerates many Iraqis.
In these armed and verbal contests between the Sadrists and the Coordination Framework, “the biggest loser is the state which watches idly as two powerful armed groups fight for power”, estimated Sajjad Jiyad, analyst at the think -thank Century International.
“Until an adequate solution is found, more protests and violence are possible,” he wrote on Twitter.
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