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Iraq: Political Alliances Hindered by Sectarian Agendas, Foreign Influence

Iraq: Political Alliances Hindered by Sectarian Agendas, Foreign Influence

Tuesday, 3 July, 2018 - 06:00
Sadrist movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr. (AFP)
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa

Soon after the emergence of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun alliance as the victor in the May Iraqi parliamentary elections, his new headquarters in Baghdad became a focal point of meetings and discussions aimed at forming the largest bloc at the newly elected legislature.

It appeared that he was leaning towards forming a bloc of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish powers, but in an abrupt turnaround, he unveiled an understanding with the Fateh alliance headed by Hadi al-Ameri.

However, as accusations of fraud began to emerge over the elections, Sadr returned to his former headquarters in the city of Najaf.

On Saturday a judges' panel announced that a recount of votes mandated by the Iraqi parliament will kick off on Tuesday.

Iraq now plunges into what has been called “legislative vacuum” - a term less severe than “constitutional vacuum.” The government will maintain all of its political jurisdiction, but lack legislative backing.

Discussions over striking political alliances have also come to a halt and the country has now fallen prey to sectarian agendas and regional and international influence.

Iraqi politician Ahmed al-Abyadh told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Despite the political and media attention that they garnered, the elections and their results did not result in many changes in Iraq.”

“In fact the same old ethnic-sectarian equation still stands,” he remarked.

The political blocs and leaderships that used to talk about alliances that transcend sectarian and ethnic interests were only humoring the Iraqi public, he added.

“The crux of the matter is that Iraqi political interests will not be achieved unless sectarian and ethnic allegiances are made. This is practically a constant in Iraq,” Abyadh said.

On regional and international influence, he said: “The Iranians believe that an Iraqi government cannot be formed without the national Shiite alliance that was formed with their blessing.”

The Turks believe that there interests cannot be achieved without a large Sunni equation, while Saudi Arabia is banking on Iraq’s Arabism to defeat sectarian and ethnic leanings, he explained.

The United States, meanwhile, is too preoccupied with the so-called “Deal of the Century” and Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A main factor in this deal, however, calls for isolating Iran and weakening its influence in Iraq and the region.

“Any government formed along sectarian lines is doomed to fail in Iraq because factors have changed and the world will not cooperate with it. The Iraqi powers must realize this and act accordingly,” Abyadh continued.

Leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party Shawan Mohammed Taha said that political powers believe that Iraqi nationalism cannot be reached. They have, therefore, turned once again to sectarian and ethnic lines to achieve their interests.

“The problem we are suffering from in Iraq is that we have not been able to build institutions that are able to rise above sectarian and ethnic lines,” he added.

He blamed this reality on party leaders who only serve their political and partisan interests at the expense of national ones.

Sadr, meanwhile, made a series of tweets on his official Twitter account to comment on the latest Iraqi developments.

He wondered when corrupt officials would stand trial, when decisions in the country would be made by the Iraqis themselves, not foreign forces, when Iraq can become prosperous and when the educated youth could have a role to play in shaping their country’s future.

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