Thursday September 08, 2022

Iraqis see resolution of crisis in polls

Iraqis see resolution of crisis in polls

Illustrative image.

After failing to form a government after the elections in last October, major political players in Iraq have decided on Monday to go for another round of elections to resolve the political impasse. The meeting was attended by President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, UN Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and representatives of the Iran-backed Coordination Framework bloc.

The prime minister’s office issued a statement saying that a technical committee comprising all political forces will be formed to “bridge differences” to hold early elections. The followers of influential Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, who secured a majority in the last elections, and who stormed the parliament last week demanding dissolution of parliament and elections to be held again, did not attend the meeting.

It is not clear what the proposed technical committee will do to reach an understanding for holding elections. Apparently, the Coordination Framework wants the decision to hold elections to come to parliament which it says must be convened for the purpose. Al-Sadr wants the judiciary to order for the election. The Coordination Framework also wants amendment to the existing electoral law. The parliament without the Sadrist bloc could arrive at the decision which the followers of Al-Sadr might find unacceptable.

The response of Al-Sadr’s followers has already shown a tone of defiance. The supporters in the city of Najaf, the stronghold of the cleric said that the fight has not ended, and that they are not going to forget the death of their compatriots. About 30 of Al-Sadr’s supporters died in the clash with the government troops and the militias of the rival bloc of Iran-backed Shias. His supporters are saying that they will follow whatever their leader Al-Sadr has to say. So, the way out of the deadlock would entirely depend on the position that Al-Sadr would adopt.

It was seen last week that it was Al-Sadr’s intervention that ended the violence when his followers were asked to withdraw within 24 hours, and they withdrew. And his call for withdrawal has helped in ending the violent protests. It seemed that Al-Sadr did not want the fighting to continue. He had even thanked the government troops and the rival militias for bringing order. The cleric’s action shows that he is shying away from a full-scale civil war that could be a dangerous thing for Iraq. He wants to protest but he would not risk the breakdown of the democratic set-up.

And Al-Sadr enjoys the obedience of his followers. But one of his supporters, Fadel Al-Bdeiri said, “The people will either side with the Sadrist movement and wage this battle and secure their demands, or their side with the Framework and remain mired in the status quo. There can’t be a reconciliation between them.” That is a hardened position, and it might not help in reaching a compromise which is needed to move forward. It might need Al-Sadr to intervene and say that he is not averse to making a compromise with his rivals.

It is possible that the outcome of a fresh election may be similar to the result of the election last October, and the stalemate would continue where no faction is in a position to form a government. There is no indication from the Iran-backed Shia bloc, the Coordination Framework, is willing to make concessions to the Al-Sadr group.

If both sides are adamant, then a solution will elude them. The solution lies in either of the sides to get sufficient numbers in the next round of elections and be in a position to form the government without the help of the rival faction. This requires that all the major players are willing to accept the election outcome and honour the results.

← Back>