Iraq Parliament Swears in New Members after Walkout of 73

New lawmakers are sworn in at the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, June 23, 2022. (Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters)
New lawmakers are sworn in at the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, June 23, 2022. (Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters)
TT

Iraq Parliament Swears in New Members after Walkout of 73

New lawmakers are sworn in at the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, June 23, 2022. (Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters)
New lawmakers are sworn in at the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, June 23, 2022. (Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters)

Iraq’s parliament swore in dozens of new lawmakers on Thursday, replacing 73 legislators loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The 73 had resigned collectively earlier this month amid a prolonged political impasse over the formation of the country's next government. The unprecedented walkout, based on a request from Sadr, threw Iraq into further uncertainty, reshuffling the deck following the Oct. 10 elections, which gave him the biggest bloc in parliament.

Although he emerged as a winner, Sadr has been locked in a power struggle with internal Shiite rivals backed by Iran and was unable to cobble together a coalition that can form a majority government.

Two weeks ago, he ordered lawmakers from his parliamentary bloc to resign in a bid to break the eight-month impasse. The move threw Iraq’s political landscape into disarray.

According to Iraqi laws, if any seat in parliament becomes vacant, the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes in their electoral district would replace them. In this case, it made Sadr’s opponents from the so-called Coordination Framework, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shiite parties and their allies, the majority with around 122 seats.

It puts Sadr out of parliament for the first time since 2005, and allows pro-Iranian factions to determine the makeup of the next government.

"Today, the first step has been completed, which is the replacement deputies taking the oath," said Lawmaker Mohammad Saadoun Sayhod, from the Rule of Law coalition represented in the Framework.

"We will now start the process of electing the president and naming the prime minister from the Coordination Framework," he said, adding he expected the formation of a new government to begin soon.

There was no immediate reaction from Sadr to the swearing in of new lawmakers. There remain concerns the political deadlock could lead to renewed protests and street clashes between supporters of Sadr and their Shiite rivals.

Even though parliament is in recess, lawmakers mostly from the Framework alliance called for an extraordinary session Thursday to vote on the new lawmakers. Sixty-four lawmakers were sworn in, while nine other replacements did not attend.

On Wednesday, Sadr accused Iranian proxies of political meddling. He also accused them of applying pressure against newly elected political independents and allies of his Sadrist bloc.

He called on parliamentarians not to succumb to pressure.

"I call on blocs to stand bravely for the sake of reform and saving the nation, and not to give in to sectarian pressures, as they are bubbles which will disappear," he said in a statement.

Munaf Al-Musawi, a political analyst and director of the Baghdad Center for Strategic Studies, said the fight for government posts will now begin. Once a government is formed, he said al-Sadr's supporters could take to the streets, leading to clashes with Shiite rivals.

"What comes next is more difficult," he said. With Coordination Framework and its allies now in control of parliament, Sadr and his allies will pay the price for their walkout, he added.

Iraq’s election was held several months earlier than expected, in response to mass protests that broke out in late 2019 and saw tens of thousands rally against endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment.



Hamas’ Armed Wing Says Israeli Airstrike Killed Two Hostages in Rafah

12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
TT

Hamas’ Armed Wing Says Israeli Airstrike Killed Two Hostages in Rafah

12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)

Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government "does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins," the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza's al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas fighters stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel says its campaign is intended to eliminate Hamas as a threat and free the remaining hostages.