World: occupation of the parliament in Baghdad: Iraq fears the horror scenario civil war

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nine months after the latest parliamentary election, Iraq faces a dangerous escalation. The power struggle in the country is out of control.

Gekommen, um zu bleiben. Nach der Stürmung wurde die Arbeit im Parlament bis auf weiteres eingestellt. © Photo: dpa/ Anmar Khalil to stay. After the storm, work in parliament was discontinued until further notice.

for the second time within a few days, demonstrators have occupied the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad - a announcement of the politician and preacher Muktada al Sadr on his rival Nuri al Maliki and Iran. After the first line -up last Wednesday, followers from Sadr had withdrawn after a short time, but when they returned to the building on Saturday, they announced that they wanted to stay there for the time being.

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Parliamentary work has been set until further notice . Maliki reacted with a demonstration of his own willingness to fight: he was photographed with a assault rifle. Nine months after the latest parliamentary election, Iraq faces a dangerous escalation.

Sadr and Maliki compete for the leadership role among the Iraqi Shiites, the largest population group in the country. Sadr won the elections in October, but failed in the formation of government and withdrew his MPs from Parliament in June. Maliki, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2014, wants to form a pro-Iranian government, but Sadr wants to prevent this.

Iraq: demonstrators enter the Parliament

 Iraq: demonstrators enter the Parliament © AMMAR Karim / AFP Iraq, Manfectation, Parliament L has a political crisis in Iraq goes up a notch. Supporters of the influential Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr invested the Parliament on Wednesday by entering the ultra-secure green zone housing at Baghdad government and embassies, to denounce the candidacy for the post of Prime Minister presented by the opposing political camp.

After the new elections, nothing has improved

video: Demonstrators storm Iraqi parliament (AFP)

The power struggle in the Shiite camp blocks the solution of urgent problems such as rampant corruption, poor power supply and high unemployment. The grievances triggered nationwide protests in 2019 and led to the early new elections last year, but nothing has improved, on the contrary: the competition between Sadr and Maliki now conjures up the horror scenario of a new civil war.

Both politicians can offer thousands of fighters and ignore the official monopoly of violence by state security forces. According to internal statements that came to the public, Maliki is said to have predicted an inner-shy "war". Sadr accuses Maliki of wanting to murder him. This dispute is now tightening with the parliamentary occupations. The government of the executive Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi is powerless.

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The 47-year-old Sadr is one of the most dazzling actors in Iraqi politics. As the son of a prominent clergyman who resisted the dictator Saddam Hussein, he enjoys a high reputation with many Shiites. His militia, the Mahdi Army, fought against the Americans after the 2003 US invasion.

Sadr presents itself as a Iraqi nationalist who rejects Iran's interference in his country, but has traveled to Tehran several times in recent years. Although he announced his withdrawal from politics in 2014, Sadr is one of the most powerful politicians in the country: his Saairun alliance won the most parliamentary seats in the 2018 and 2021 elections.

How does Iran react?

Maliki is closer to Iran than his rival Sadr, but has not yet been able to prevail against him. Observers see this a sign of Iran's weakness, which has seen Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein as his back yard. For Tehran, Iraq is part of the Iranian sphere of influence from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, says Iran expert Firas Elias.

But Iran has been losing influence since the murder of General Qassem Soleimani two years ago in Iraq, Elias wrote in an analysis for the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy. Sadr's victory in the elections last year was another defeat for Iran.

The time of the first parliamentary occupation of Baghdad on Wednesday shows how strongly Sadr feels: his followers stormed the plenum during a visit to Esmail Qaani in the Iraqi capital. As the successor to Soleimani, Qaani leads the foreign troop of the Iranian revolutionary guard and is the head of pro-Iranian politicians such as Maliki. He obviously does not want to cope with Sadr. Iran expert Elias reported on Twitter, citing Iranian sources that Qaani wanted to ask his protégé Maliki not to provoke his rivals.

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