Tue, 16 Aug 2022

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The recent protests held separately by the followers of Iraq's powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Shiite rivals have deepened the political deadlock and instability as the country still struggles to form a government almost 10 months after parliamentary elections.

On July 27 and July 30, hundreds of al-Sadr's followers stormed into the Iraqi parliament in protest against the nomination of Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani as prime minister.

On Monday, thousands of Shiite protesters held a protest in central Baghdad to counter the earlier demonstrations by al-Sadr supporters.

Ali al-Musa, an Iraqi political analyst, told Xinhua that if a clash erupts between the supporters of the rivals, chaos will prevail in the country, stressing that both sides should initiate negotiations to avoid the dangerous consequences.

Al-Sadr's Sadrist Movement emerged as the biggest winner in the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections last year by winning 73 seats. Al-Sadr insisted on forming a national majority government from the winning parties in the elections.

But pro-Iran rivals in the Shiite community and some other parties opposed al-Sadr's proposal, calling for forming a consensus government to include all political blocs, as in the case of all previous governments since 2003.

After failing to form a majority government, al-Sadr ordered the Sadrist lawmakers to resign on June 12, paving the way for his opponents in the Coordination Framework (CF), an umbrella group of Shiite parliamentary parties, to become the largest alliance in the parliament.

The CF nominated al-Sudani, a leading figure in the Shiite Islamic Dawa Party headed by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, as prime minister. But al-Sadr wanted the CF to nominate an independent figure for the post.

"The political deadlock in Iraq is because the political parties want to continue with the quota system," al-Musa said.

The quota system, also known as the power-sharing system followed in Iraq after 2003, aims to grant the various ethnic and sectarian factions an opportunity to be part of the government.

Al-Sadr and some political analysts believe that such a system weakens the government by bringing incompetent and corrupt people to state positions, al-Musa said.

Al-Musa blamed Iraq's political crises on the political process installed by the United States after its occupation of Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

"The United States came with a plan of destruction, not construction, and democracy is a lie," al-Musa said.

"Building the political process on sectarian and ethnic bases turned Iraq into a weak state that any foreign country can interfere in its internal affairs, while the Iraqi people are getting poorer," he added.

Yaser al-Jubouri, a member of the Political and Governance Development Academy, a Baghdad-based think tank, told Xinhua that the protests of al-Sadr followers are against "the failure of the current political system."

He pointed out that the consensus principle of the current political parties has repeatedly failed to confront various problems, including combating corruption and disarming uncontrolled militias, as well as foreign interference in Iraq's internal affairs.

"Washington failed to create a democratic model in Iraq as it claimed, instead, it has made Iraq a chaotic place and an arena for settling scores," al-Jubouri said.

Hadi al-Ameri, head of the al-Fatih parliamentary bloc, has urged the leaders of the Sadrist Movement and the CF to exercise restraint and to take into account the interests of the country through holding constructive dialogues.

As part of the attempts to defuse the crisis, many Iraqi clerics, scholars, and national figures have also issued statements calling for revising the Iraqi constitution and reforming the political process to rid them of the problems created by the U.S. during its occupation.

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