Iraq's Sadr Threatens to Quit Parliament to Pressure his Opponents

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on June 3, 2022. (AFP)
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on June 3, 2022. (AFP)
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Iraq's Sadr Threatens to Quit Parliament to Pressure his Opponents

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on June 3, 2022. (AFP)
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on June 3, 2022. (AFP)

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned on Thursday that members of his bloc will quit parliament if he is thwarted from forming a national majority government.

He made his remarks days before the deadline he set to his rival Shiite pro-Iran Coordination Framework to reach a solution to the country's political impasse.

In a televised speech, Sadr said he was ready to join the country's opposition if the deadlock were to continue.

The deadlock is "deliberate," he charged, saying his MPs should prepare their resignation letters because the Framework was continuing to impede the government formation efforts.

Sadr's latest warning is the starkest since the eruption of the crisis erupted in wake of the parliamentary elections that saw the influential cleric emerge as the clear winner with 75 MPs. The Framework has challenged the results, dismissing them as a sham.

Sadr has since formed a coalition with Sunni and Kurdish MPs to form a comfortable majority bloc in parliament.

As the Framework demonstrated it was unwilling to help form the government, Sadr announced he would grant them three months to form one and yet, no progress has been made. The deadline ends soon.

"If the Sadrist bloc is seen as an obstacle in the formation of a government, then they are ready to quit," Sadr declared on Thursday.

Parliament went into recess on Thursday and will convene again in July. It seems unlikely that that will be enough time for the deadlock to be resolved.

Observers have expressed alarm at Sadr's latest announcement, with some viewing it as a sign that he has no solution to ending the impasse.

It will also leave his Sunni and Kurdish allies at a loss over what position they will make in wake of his dramatic announcement.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.