Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Iraq appears to be headed for another round of elections.
Starting with the US war on Russia. From DEMOCRACY NOW!:
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The violence got so much, Iraq's actually getting a bit of attention. Here's BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR.
A tense calm has returned in Iraq's capital city after the worst violence there in years. Fighting between rival factions left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.
Simona Foltyn is in Baghdad and has this report.
After a night of deadly clashes between Iraq's Shiite factions, a sudden reversal today, as followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone, home to embassies and government institutions in Central Baghdad.
Ahmed Ahmed, Protester (through translator):
As members of Sadrist movement, we follow what our leader orders. The leader asked us to withdraw.
In a televised address, Sadr ordered his supporters and militia to leave.
Muqtada Al-Sadr, Iraqi Political Leader (through translator):
I still believe that my supporters are disciplined and obedient. And if in the next 60 Minutes, they do not withdraw, as well as from Parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.
Sadr's call for de-escalation came after weeks of unrest, during which he tried, but ultimately failed to force his will onto his political rivals.
Moments after he announced his withdrawal from politics on Monday, hundreds of angry supporters stormed the government palace. The protests quickly turned into heavy fighting, and armed wings of Iran-aligned parties who oppose Sadr forcing the cleric to back down.
Muqtada Al-Sadr (through translator):
I had hoped for peaceful protests, with pure hearts, hearts filled with love for their country, not ones that resort to gunfire. This saddens the revolution.
The clashes stoked fears that the country could descend into a fresh cycle of violence.
Nour Al-Moussawi, Iraqi Civilian (through translator):
This dangerous situation and the overtaking of the government's property or storming the highest authority, which is the Republican Palace, will destabilize the economic situation, as well as our daily lives.
All of this played out against the backdrop of political deadlock. Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in last October's parliamentary elections, but not enough to form a government.
His refusal to negotiate with Shia rivals has left the government, and the country in limbo. The curfew has now been lifted and life in the Iraqi Capitol is slowly returning to normal, marking the end of Baghdad's bloodiest day in recent years.
But a dangerous precedent has been set and, for now, the rifts over government formation that sparked the armed clashes remain unresolved. In the absence of a clear path towards a political solution, there's a risk that the two sides may once again resort to settling their scores in the streets.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Baghdad.
Supporters of prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces and Iran-allied militias in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and stormed the presidential palace. The sound of machine-gun fire and the thud of rocket-propelled grenades rocked the heart of the city. The violence sprawled across the country, with Sadrists attacking the offices of factions linked to Iran in various cities. More than 30 people were killed, with the death toll expected to rise at the time of writing.
But by Tuesday afternoon, Sadr called on his followers to withdraw and lamented the loss of life. For his supposed restraint, he earned the plaudits of Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has been operating in a caretaker role as Iraqi politicians have failed for almost a year to form a government.
October 10th, Iraq held elections. Thanks to Joe Biden who, as US vice president, oversaw The Erbil Agreement in 2010, Iraqis support for elections has weakened. That's when they voted Nouri al-Maliki out after his first term as prime minister but Joe oversaw the contract that tossed aside the people's votes and gave Nouri a second term he didn't win. Iraq, under US occupation, has remained one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Many live in poverty while Iraq rakes in billions each year from oil, money that never makes it to the people. Right now, yet again, cholera outbreark, a regular feature any summer in Iraq. Potable water, a basic human necessity (as the people in Jackson, Mississippi can attest) is an issue. Iraq has suffered through a very hot summer with out dependable electricity (something residents of southeast Michigan can currently relate to).
The government does not serve the people (which people everywhere can probably relate to). And so the participation in voting had dipped and decreased. Iraqis actively sat out the 2021 election with the exception of members of the Shi'ite militias who were disenfranchised. They long ago became members of the Iraqi security forces -- recognized as such. At the last minute, Mustafa al-Kadhimi disenfranchised them because they weren't going to vote for him. All security forces are supposed to vote in the early election. This is because on actual election day, they have to be dispersed throughout the country to protect polling places. Mustafa banned the militias -- and only the militias -- from the early voting.
Moqtada al-Sadr would benefit from all of this. His political party did not get the most votes in the election. His alliance did. There's a difference. For months, he tried to form a government and he failed repeatedly.
He stamped his feet and threatened to withdraw his members from Parliament. No one really cared so he made good on this threat.
Then he started whining the Parliament needed to be dissolved. It didn't feel that way and he had no voice in it now because his MPs had resigned. He sent his cult into the Green Zone to occupy the Parliament. Then he demanded the judiciary dissolve Parliament.
They said no, they didn't have that power.
Now the violence has broken out.
Mustafa, a Sad supporter, is now saying he will resign if violence continues and Barham Salah (a Sadr supporter) is saying early elections might be the answer.
It's a system where Moqtada doesn't get his way so he stomps his feet and everyone rushes to appease the angry child.
A new election is very unlikely to give Moqtada what he wants.
A new election is most likely going to result in Shi'ites who sat out voting last time showing up at the polls this go round. Which means Moqtada returns to being a small part of Iraq.
What happens then? He stomps his feet and gets another election?
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