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Iraq: The Shiite-Shiite Conflict

Iraq: The Shiite-Shiite Conflict

Sunday, 31 July, 2022 - 07:30
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The current developments in Iraq are an inter-Shiite struggle for power. This is at the heart of the crisis at hand and fears are real that a miscalculation could lead to a bloody clash that would spell disaster.


We are confronted today with a Shiite Iraqi side that enjoys the parliamentary majority that was won through elections. It is confronted with another Shiite bloc that does not acknowledge these results and does not understand the language of negotiations. All it wants is power.


The Sadrists, the holders of the majority, and their allies are attempting to practice their rights according to the rules of the game and protests and sit-ins after they exhausted all negotiations to form a government and elect a president.


The other side had met these efforts with more intransigence.


The other side wants power, even if it has to resort to force. It is led by Nouri al-Maliki, who recently made an appearance from his home. He was seen holding a weapon even though he was not in imminent danger. Perhaps, one would then interpret the image that he would not shy away from turning to force if needed.


The side eyeing power is the pro-Iran Coordination Framework. It will not only expose Iraq to major confrontation and humanitarian tragedy, but some believe that it may deal a deafening blow to Iran’s agenda in Iraq.


Some experts in Baghdad insist that Iran is at a loss with what to do in Iraq and lacks a clear vision. I have my own reservations over this view because Iran does not practice politics in Iraq, but rather it acts like a thug and bully there.


So, no one can guarantee that Iran would resort to violence that target specific figures to change the rules of the game, just as it did in Lebanon when it assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, marking a pivotal moment in the country.


Amid this inter-Shiite conflict there remain some sides that have yet to make their stance clear. They are the army and security agencies that have been developed with new equipment and improved with recruits.


Should the crisis persist and God forbid, develop even further, especially with reports that Maliki is expected to deliver a speech – and nothing rational could ever come of him – and the Framework intent on taking to the streets, then all eyes will be turned to the army and security forces that will find themselves obligated to take a stand.


We are not asking for a coup or return to military rule, but rather that a decision be taken to protect what remains of the Iraqi state, because the whole of Iraq will be impacted should this inter-Shiite struggle for power devolve into violence.


No sect will be spared from this conflict. No matter what Iran loses, the greatest loser in this scenario will be the Iraqi state and social peace.


The truth is today’s crisis has been in the making for a while. We hope that it will be confronted with reason and wisdom because anything other than that will spell a new tragedy in Iraq and the region.


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