Iraqi parliament elections reinforced the influence of Sadrists in the country’s political apparatus. Sadrists are followers of a Shiite Iraqi cleric whose approaches are against the US policies in the country.
Iraqi parliamentary election concluded with an impressive gain by an anti-US faction inside the country. Sadrist movement, led by the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, made the best gains in the fifth Iraqi election since the fall of previous dictator Saddam Hussain.
In a political environment shaped by anti-administration rallies, opposition candidates gained several seats. With more votes counted, it became obvious that the Sadr Alliance was the major victor in last week’s elections.
The Sadrists gained about twenty more seats in Iraqi legislation chamber, solidifying its position as the parliament’s single largest bloc. The result secured volatile religious leader a further crucial influence on the country’s future.
The result may make it even more difficult for Iraq to navigate diplomatically between the US and Iran. The two rivals both view Iraq essential to their own objectives. Following the emergence of the ISIS seven years ago, pro-Iranian militants have proved a larger part in the country, acting against US destructive goals.
Iran has also had a major role in annihilating the ISIS in Syria and Iraq in cooperation with Russia and local government. As such, Iran has secured the public attention and favor during the years.
Sadr’s relationship with Tehran has gone through ups and downs in recent years. A pupil in Iranian religious schools, Sadr is ideologically in congruence with Iranian leaders. The occasional tense ties between Iran and Sadr movement seems to be originating from US interventions.
Sadrists have had no good relationship with American powerbrokers and find their presence damaging to Iraqi democracy. As such, the US finds denigrating Sadr-Iran relationship to its benefit.
Sadrists in New Iraq
“Even if those who claim resistance or such, it is time for the people to live in peace, without occupation, terrorism, militias and kidnapping. Today is the victory day of the people against the occupation, normalization, militias, poverty, and slavery,” these remarks by Muqtada al-Sadr following the election win clearly indicates his approach towards multiple regional hot issues.
Sadr antagonism towards US presence in Iraq, which he calls occupation, is still a salient agenda in his plans. The public dissatisfaction with the ‘occupation’ is one of the secrets behind Sadrists success in the Sunday elections.
Besides, Sadr referred to his sharp rejection of normalization of relations with Israel, an initiative launched during Trump era last year. The practice seems to be under the influence of Iranian ideological politics concerning the conflict between Palestine and Israel. Recently, some Kurdish groups in Iraq called for normalization with Israel only to receive sharp backlash for Iraqi public community.
Sadrists win in the recent election, nevertheless, has another dimension. The official data registered the turnout on 41%, a record low in the last twenty decades. The outcome may be a volatile government whose stability much depends on its conduct in the coming years.
The economic condition was the main source of Iraqi 2019 protests. Besides, the US presence in the country exhausted hopes for future of the country revealed in a wave of demonstrations following US Assassination of some Iranian and Iraqi top commanders early in 2020.
Sadrists clearly figured out the public will and power in recent years. The approaches that the movement adopts in electing the prime minister and policy-making in coming years will decide its future.
There is a 59% population in Iraq dissatisfied with the status quo, leaving the future a card at the hands of Sadrists.