American magazine: 3 main challenges to Al-Sadr’s quest to form a majority government in Iraq
Researcher Kamran Muhammad Balani believes that al-Sadr may also consider accepting the opposition leadership, an option that he may somewhat like.
The National Interest magazine publishedThe National InterestAn American article that included an analytical reading of the final results of the legislative elections in Iraq, and the fortunes of the Sadrist bloc led by Muqtada al-Sadr in forming a national majority government and the challenges it faces in doing so.
Kamran Muhammad Balani – an associate fellow at the Al Sharq Strategic Research Center – believes in his article in the magazine that Al-Sadr – whose bloc led the elections – is serious about forming a national majority government, despite his realization that the support of other parties for him is not guaranteed.
The formation of such a new government would enhance the political, ideological and international priorities of al-Sadr, whose bloc and coalition voted “Progress” led by Muhammad al-Halbousi and “Azm” led by Khamis al-Khanjar al-Sunni, along with the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani and other small factions; In favor of re-electing Al-Halbousi as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the session held on the ninth of this January.
Shiite house splits
Balani believes that the vote during that session cemented divisions in the Shiite house, which was divided into two main fronts: one of the Sadrist movement and the other of the coordination framework that includes other Shiite forces that reject the election results on the grounds that they are fraudulent. The vote also demonstrated al-Sadr’s ability to change the dynamics of politics in Iraq.
The framework includes the State of Law coalition led by Nuri al-Maliki, the Al-Fateh Alliance (the Popular Mobilization factions, some of which are close to Iran), led by Hadi al-Amiri, the State Forces Alliance, the Victory Alliance, the Ataa Movement, and the Virtue Party.
Balani views the election of Al-Halbousi as Speaker of the House of Representatives (Parliament) as a victory for the Sadrist bloc over the Shiite coordination framework that is “largely aligned with Iran,” according to the article of the American magazine.
Al-Sadr described the election of Al-Halbousi as an important step towards forming a national majority government by allying himself with non-Shiite parties – a goal he has been striving to achieve since the elections that took place last October – or to be satisfied with playing the role of the political opposition.
The coordination framework proposed one option, which is the formation of a consensus government. As for al-Sadr, a national majority government means communicating with the main winning Sunni and Kurdish forces while excluding other political forces.
However, the formation of a national majority government led by the Sadrist bloc depends on the support of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the new Sunni coalition between the alliances “Progress” and “Azm.” And attracting the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Bafel Talabani to his side will guarantee Sadr the formation of a new government.
On the other hand, Al-Sadr may be able – according to the article – to form a national majority government by “splitting” the coordination framework and gaining the support of other Shiite components such as the “state forces” and “Al-Fateh” alliances.
Al-Sadr will face three main challenges in his quest to establish an alliance with the Kurds and Sunnis. The first of these challenges – in the opinion of the author of the article – is that the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Sunni parties have so far rejected the idea of forming a coalition with only one Shiite bloc.
Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki – who leads the coordination framework – has been seeking to create new alliances in an attempt to increase the number of his bloc seats, and this led to achieving a balance in the number of seats between the two Sunni blocs, which makes it difficult for al-Halbousi to claim unilateral leadership or representation of Sunnis Iraq, in the words of the National Interest article.
In the event that al-Sadr can eventually obtain the support of the Barzani and al-Halbousi parties, the Shiite component of his coalition will not form a majority; This makes the government he seeks to establish the first government of its kind that is not dominated by Shiites since 2003. Perhaps this will cause his coalition to suffer in its quest for the support of the Iraqi Shiite community.
The researcher at the Al Sharq Center for Strategic Research believes in his article that the most likely possibility is that these challenges will make Muqtada al-Sadr try to communicate with Shiite forces within the coordinating framework in order to form a government of reconciliation led by the Sadrists.
The Sadrists may also consider accepting the leadership of the opposition, an option that may appeal to them somewhat, especially since he has always presented himself as a “rebel” who has been holding the governments in Baghdad accountable.
And if al-Sadr is not a party to the next government – according to the author of the article – then the coordination framework and the allied factions will extend their hegemony over Iraq, which may allow them to continue to work independently of the Iraqi security forces without being subjected to pressure from the government.
With all this in mind, it is possible that a “partial” reconciliation government will be formed. Kamran Balani does not see in his article anything new in the matter of forming a consensus government, but what is new – in his opinion – is that it may be a consensus government that works to enhance Muqtada al-Sadr’s political, ideological and international priorities.