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Zero Hour for Change in Iraq ... What Is the Purpose of Sadr Protests?

Zero Hour for Change in Iraq ... What Is the Purpose of Sadr Protests?

Wednesday, 27 July, 2022 - 18:00
Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr react as they protest against corruption inside the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq July 27, 2022. (Reuters)

Thousands of supporters of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed Iraq’s parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone to protest against Mohammed al-Sudani's nomination of prime minister by the pro-Iran Coordination Framework.


A source close to the Sadrists told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is as if the movement is declaring zero hour for changing the current ruling system with which no reform can be possible.”


The source expected the protests to continue, even as Sadr ordered his supporters to quit parliament, until the fair demands of the people are met and a national government is formed away from the division of shares, corruption and regional and international meddling.


Protests will be held in the majority of central and southern provinces, he added.


Indeed, people took to the streets in Basra to protest Sudani’s nomination.


The Coordination Framework had announced Sudani’s nomination on Monday. Sudani was selected by State of Law leader and former premier Nouri al-Maliki, a rival of Sadr.


Sadr recently stepped down from the political process despite having won the most seats in the October federal election. He exited government formation talks after he was not able to corral enough lawmakers to get the majority required to elect Iraq’s next president.


By replacing his lawmakers, the Framework pushed ahead to form the next government.


‘Maliki’s shadow’


A source close to Sadr described Sudani as “Maliki’s shadow.”


Sadr and the former PM were pitted in a sharp dispute last week in wake of voice recordings attributed to Maliki in which he was fiercely critical of the cleric and other Iraqi figures.


Sadr had called on Maliki to quit politics and seek forgiveness over the damning recordings.


Sadr’s circles have expressed their determination to change the situation in Iraq and prevent rivals in the Coordination Framework to form a new government.


It remains to be seen what future steps the cleric has in store, besides protests, to shuffle the political cards in Iraq and return the situation to square one.


The majority of local observers do not doubt Sadr’s ability in turning the situation in his favor given his massive loyal following.


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