Iraq is expected to struggle for sovereignty in 2022

Muqtada Al-Sadr has applauded Prime Minister Mustafa Al-efforts Kadhimi's to maintain Iraq impartial in the US-Iran standoff.
Muqtada Al-Sadr has applauded Prime Minister Mustafa Al-efforts Kadhimi's to maintain Iraq impartial in the US-Iran standoff.

According to commentators, Iran, the United Governments, and Gulf Arab states are increasingly involved in a fight over Iraq's destiny. They think the question that will hang over 2022 is whether the new Iraqi political landscape, which will emerge following October's parliamentary elections, will be able to promote Iraqi sovereignty in the face of this geopolitical tug of war.

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On the occasion of Iraq's centennial celebrations on December 11, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi asked all Iraqis to focus on what brings them together rather than what separates them for the benefit of the country's common welfare. Despite repeated attempts by defeated pro-Iranian Shiite parties to have the results annulled, the country's federal court is set to maintain the October parliamentary election results, which were lauded by Iraqi and foreign observers.

Their representation has plummeted to to 17 seats, compared to 74 for Shiite leader Muqtada al-party. Sadr's Iraqi observer Omar Sattar wrote on the Al-Monitor website that Sadr wants to "create a majority government rejecting all foreign meddling and disarm militias." Pro-Iran forces are responding to Sadr's demands by taking to the streets, threatening civil unrest, and working to overturn the election results. It might take a long time to find a medium ground."

Elections were conducted early in response to major anti-government rallies in 2019, but there are still fears about powerful armed organisations, many of which are tied to Iran. Following a botched assassination attempt on Al-Kadhimi in November, no arrests or charges have been made.

Iraq, according to senior analyst Nicholas Heras of the Newlines Institute in Washington, is at a fork in the road, and its sovereignty is on the line.

"It will fundamentally require Iraqi leaders working across Iraqi society to try to build bridges among communities in Iraq that have had very difficult experiences living together, both under Saddam Hussein's regime and in the aftermath," Heras said. "That will be a problem, and it is the major existential concern for Iraq, since the country is on the verge of becoming a failed state, divided into numerous areas and ruled by various identity communities.

"According to observers, Al-Kadhimi has acted as a balancing factor for Iraq, attempting to entice the country back into the Arab fold through economic agreements with Jordan and Egypt, as well as mediating between regional adversaries Saudi Arabia and Iran. These measures, according to Osama Al Sharif, a Middle East political observer in Amman, are "anathema to the pro-Iran proxies."

Muqtada Al-Sadr has applauded Prime Minister Mustafa Al-efforts Kadhimi's to maintain Iraq impartial in the US-Iran standoff.Foreign affairs/wikipedia

Meanwhile, as the year came to a conclusion, US-led coalition forces in Iraq terminated their combat mission, moving 2,500 troops fighting Islamic State to a training and advising role. Iran, on the other hand, is said to want the US out of Iraq, according to observers. Heras, Nicholas.

"Al Kadhimi is seen as a symbol of US backing for the Iraqi government. So, what we're witnessing today in Iraq is an end-zone conflict in which Iran is attempting to keep operations carried out by its proxies beneath a threshold of escalation that would preclude a major US or Al-Kadhimi-backed response "Heras said.

"Muqtada Al-Sadr has applauded Prime Minister Mustafa Al-efforts Kadhimi's to maintain Iraq impartial in the US-Iran standoff," Osama Al Sharif wrote in the Saudi Arab News daily.

"Even if this is anathema to his Shiite rivals," he said, Al-Sadr may keep Al-Kadhimi as prime minister. This would be a significant step forward for Iraq, which is attempting to reclaim its national identity and reintegrate into the Arab world."

"It will be a historic milestone in the country's rehabilitation if Al-Sadr succeeds in collapsing the ethno-sectarian system," he argues, "but his failure might be terrible on all fronts."

(IANS/PR)

(keywords: Al Kadhimi, Iraq, Government, Prime Minister Mustafa, sovereignty, 2022)

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