Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iraq… A Leak that Leaves the 'Framework' Leaking

Iraq… A Leak that Leaves the 'Framework' Leaking

Friday, 15 July, 2022 - 11:45

A ‘leak’ refers to material exiting a container through a crack or a hole, a gradual process by definition, or someone disclosing secret information. In Iraqi politics, however, leaks can be explained in various and divergent ways. It starts with identifying the leaker and the setting in which the leak was made. It could even end with an armed phrase that erases the letters that could connect to make the sentence that gives the political process one last chance.

In the leaked audio of the Parliamentary Head of the State of Law Coalition, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in which he launches personal attacks against the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, uses inflammatory sectarian rhetoric as he discusses other national groups, and threatens to kill off what remains of the Coordination Framework’s opportunities to find a solution to the ongoing political standoff, leaving the future uncertain.

In Iraq, uncertain outcomes are almost foregone conclusions; they mean the continuation of obstruction that perpetuates chaos and paves the way to infighting and then civil wars. If the wise factions within the Framework do not assume their responsibility and take the initiative to address the ongoing crisis, it may topple what remains of the 2003 regime.

Some of the Coordination Framework’s forces are sane and prudent. From the very beginning, they have been opposed to downplaying al-Sadr’s exit from Parliament. They weren’t contemplating sparking a conflict to settle the score, they handled the fireball that he threw at them with caution, consistently distinguished themselves in their approach to facing him, and insisted on incorporating Sadr’s forces. These positions mean they now have to resolve two crises; first, the public issue of the leak, and second, the private matter of the Framework’s future.

Regarding the public issue, the leak leaves the Framework as a whole facing a difficult challenge. How will Sadr and his supporters react to Maliki’s statements in the future? Thus, the wise factions within the Framework must take advantage of the opportunity that Sadr has given them in his last tweet about the Friday prayer (today, the 15th) that he had previously called for. In the Tweet, he says: “Friday prayer is pure worship,” seeking to contain the crisis, especially after he belittled what Maliki had said: “We do not give him any weight.”

Regardless of Sadr’s tweet, the turnout at the prayers and rituals, as well as the speech that will precede, will shape the next stage. That is, it will determine the contours of the political and popular confrontation between the Sadrist Movement and the Coordination Framework. In particular, the wise factions in the Framework have a responsibility to curb the rigid forces that will push them to a political confrontation with Sadr and with the other national groups (Kurds and Sunnis), whom Maliki had also mentioned, which might create turmoil whose repercussions neither the Coordination Framework nor the Shiite political class can afford.

Since the Framework became a majority, their intensive consultations resulted in continuous modifications to the criteria of the prime minister and his name. This continuous auto-obstruction within the Framework became more complicated after some prominent internal parties openly expressed the reluctance of their leaders to run for the position of prime minister, and the decision of other parties to not even participate in the government, i.e., voluntarily abandoning their ministerial share, demonstrate the inability of the Framework to resolve the question of its candidates.

This is considered a severe political setback in its tug of war with rivals. The competition for the high posts resulted in the removal of the names of the first two classes from the competition for the post of PM.

And so, the magnitude of the conflicts within the Framework might push it to assign a third-degree employee to the role of first minister and not prime minister, i.e., transforming this position to director of the prime minister’s office. It would thus be the biggest political crime against the Shiites, and it would be committed by the Shiites themselves as they undermine the most important position in government, which no longer suits either internal forces or the external.

Despite its weakness and divisions at home, and conflicting interests abroad, regional and international circumstances demand that all sides choose a prime minister who is able to maintain internal and external balances during this period, which is not the case for most candidates of the Framework.

To conclude, the leak did away with what remains of the Frameworks’ chances of forming a government. The political and popular costs of Maliki’s words will be decided by Sadr in the coming days. However, regardless of Sadr’s reaction, the Framework lost its last chance, and the developments of the near future will undermine its factions’ relationships with one another, which will doubtlessly put all their plans to seize power on the back foot.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks