"Everything is in place for political tensions to plunge the country into civil war"

Published on : 13/01/2022 – 06:59

According to Adel Bakawan, director of the French Center for Research on Iraq (Cfri), the current political tensions in the country, born from the results of the legislative elections in October and exacerbated by the recent standoff around the formation of a parliamentary majority, hover over the country “the risk of a civil war”.

The political tension is so high in Iraq, three months after the legislative elections of October 10, that deputies came to blows on January 9, during the inaugural session of Parliament. Mahmoud al-Machhadani, who chaired the session as the dean of the assembly, even had to be evacuated due to the altercations caused by the debates around the formation of a parliamentary coalition.

A capital political question since it will be up to this coalition to choose the next Prime Minister and the future members of the government. Problem, two opposing Shiite camps claim a parliamentary majority.

On the one hand, the Coordination Framework, which brings together several parties including that of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and that of the pro-Iranians of the Conquest Alliance, the political front of the former paramilitaries of Hachd al-Chaabi , who suffered a heavy defeat in the legislative elections before contesting the results, in the street and in court.

On the other hand, the Shiite nationalist leader Moqtada al-Sadr, winner of the legislative elections with 73 seats won out of 329, who intends to form a coalition with allies from other faith communities. Precisely with the elected representatives of two Sunni formations, Azm and Taqadom, and those of a Kurdish party, the PDK of Massoud Barzani.

Despite the chaos during the parliamentary session on January 9, Moqtada al-Sadr, who also has an armed militia, won the first round of the battle between him and his Shiite rivals. He succeeded in having the outgoing President of Parliament, Mohammed al-Haboussi, re-elected to his post.

The Sadrist current wants to impose “majority government”

The Sadrist current and its allies even seem determined to go to the end of their process. That is to say to impose their candidate for the post of Prime Minister and form alone a “majority government”. The other actors would find themselves excluded de facto from the process, explains Adel Bakawan, director of the French Center for Research on Iraq (Cfri) and author of “Iraq, a century of bankruptcy, from 1921 to the present day” (ed. Tallandier).

“It is a break with the system of power because until now, the formula that governed the country between 2003 and 2021 involved all the political forces, each at its level, in the process of forming Iraqi governments, which were ultimately the fruit of a national consensus, he told France 24. However, in a country which does not have a democratic tradition, the risk that Moqtada al-Sadr takes is great, because the forces he seeks to exclude are not only classic political parties, since they almost all have a militia or paramilitary organization “.

“Since 2003, all the political forces have behaved as both government and opposition actors,” continues the Franco-Iraqi researcher. In the current government, headed by Prime Minister Moustafa Al-Kadhimi, all tendencies are It includes the nationalists of Moqtada al-Sadr and the pro-Iranian Shiite movements. And yet its authority is trampled on every day by the militia organizations, even as they participate in the government. are excluded from power and marginalized, how do you think they will react? “

War or deadlock?

The current balance of power is comparable to a fairly balanced showdown. Each side has a nuisance power and no one is ready to accept defeat.

“This is the reason why the country is facing an impasse while the Shiite house is ideologically fractured, summarizes Adel Bakawan. In this context, if Moqtada al-Sadr and his Kurdish and Sunni allies decide to go to the end of their approach when all the objective conditions are met for political tensions to plunge the country into civil war, the settlement of disagreements would then be done by means of arms and drones “.

He recalls that Iraq has nearly 80 “heavily armed” militia organizations recognized by the Iraqi state, which granted them in 2021 a budget of more than $ 2.6 billion. A number of them have the support or are under the influence of foreign powers, including Iran.

“There are two other scenarios, the first is to leave the country in an impasse without forming a government, indicates Adel Bakawan. Because despite their disagreements, the Iranians and the Americans, who have a great influence in Iraq, do not want to leave the country will enter a civil war. Everyone will lose there while there are enormous economic interests at stake “.

And to continue: “Another way is to want to break the deadlock and avoid civil war. This implies an awareness on the part of political actors and Iraqi elites that the current formula on which Iraq has been Built since 2003, it no longer works, it no longer meets the needs of the fragmented population, and an agreement on a new formula must be sought before a new government is formed.

A perspective that does not seem, for the moment, on the agenda of the parties competing for power. And this even as the post-election period was marked by violence which reached its climax on November 7, with the unclaimed assassination attempt by drones trapped against Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi.

Leave a Reply