Thursday, October 6

Iran loses weight in Iraq due to the internal struggle between the Shiite factions

The leader of the Shiite nationalist sector of Iraq, the cleric Muqtada al Sadr, is about to reap dividends from his reckless occupation of Parliament after the support received by much of the opposition to advance the elections, only ten months after the last elections . Al Sadr’s virtual political victory, on his way to becoming the country’s leader, is also a severe setback for Iran’s ambitions to extend his influence throughout the region. After the retreat of the Shia Hezbollah party in the last elections in the Cedar country, Tehran has also lost weight in Lebanon. With its almost 39 million inhabitants and a privileged geostrategic location in the Middle East, the fate of Iraq – in its umpteenth political crisis – cannot fail to have effects throughout the region. Even less if one considers the economic relevance of the country – OPEC’s second largest oil power; or religious, as the sacred territory of both Sunnism and Shiism, the two great currents of Islam. Despite this, and after twenty years of military and political presence in Iraq, the United States decided a few months ago to pack up and leave the territory, after realizing an obvious reality. Iraq is a country of indomitable Arabs, incapable of understanding each other after having overcome one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the last century: that of Saddam Hussein. The latest crisis, which has crystallized in the occupation of the Baghdad Parliament by fanatical followers of Iraq’s most charismatic leader, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, has highlighted a new dimension of the internal sectarian confrontation. Until now, the most serious disagreements have occurred between Sunnis and Shiites – who share the population equally – and between the central Arab government and the Kurdish minority in the north, which has achieved a great deal of autonomy and aspires to secession. Now, the crisis is poisoned within the Shia community itself, with the confrontation between the nationalist followers of Al Sadr and the groups allied with Iran, framed in the so-called Coordination Framework. If Tehran rubbed its hands when Trump, and later Biden, decided to reduce the US presence to a symbolic figure (the Pentagon once had 170,000 soldiers in Iraq, and today there are barely 2,000 left), the joy has been short-lived to the regime of the ayatollahs. Standard photo gallery No Supporters of the Shiite cleric Al Sadr sow chaos in Baghdad again with a new assault on Parliament Agencies At least 125 injured, including 25 members of the Iraqi security forces, due to clashes between the Police and the army and the thousands of sympathizers Calculated ambiguity Al Sadr has shown with the occupation of Parliament -which he considers “powerless” to form a stable government-, and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of militants in Baghdad last Friday, that he is the leader with the most convening capacity in Iraq. His nationalist discourse, especially directed against the Shiites who support the patronage of Iran, and his appeal to ambiguous reforms of the current democratic model to avoid “massive corruption” of his political class, arouse logical reservations in the West. But the fact is that the US and the European Union have abandoned Iraq, after overthrowing Saddam, and other powers are now aspiring to or occupying his position. Al Sadr, the warlord who wants to break the deck The cleric Muqtada al Sadr REUTERS Iraq “could be as rich as Saudi Arabia” for its oil, but the money is lost in the broken networks of the “corrupt” political class. Populism also sells in Baghdad, along with anti-American and anti-Iranian nationalist discourse, and Muqtada al-Sadr knows it. His wrestling credentials are beyond question. His father, also a Shiite cleric, was executed as a dissident by Saddam Hussein. During the 2003 allied invasion, Muqtada fought against both Saddam and US troops. He has the best armed militia in the country, and one word from him is enough to throw his loyalists out into the streets. After successive wars, first against the dictator in Baghdad and then against the Islamic State ‘jihadist caliphate’ in the north, the last thing Iraq wants is another conflict. Not entirely impossible if Al Sadr’s pulse leads to a spiral of violence.

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