What does “Al-Sadr’s” progress in the Iraqi elections mean?

“I will not participate in these elections, because the homeland is more important than all of that,” this is what the leader of the “Sadr movement” Muqtada al-Sadr announced last July in a televised speech, adding, “I announce that I will withdraw my hand from all those belonging to this current and future government, even if they claim to belong to us, the al-Sadr family.” .

Al-Sadr’s position, which surprised many, came a few days after a fire broke out in Al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriyah, which led to the death of at least 60 people, which sparked widespread public outrage, due to the deterioration of health services in Iraq.

“Reuters” news agency published a report at the time in which Hamdi Malak, associate fellow at the Washington Institute, said that “Al-Sadr’s announcement appears to be aimed at distancing himself from popular discontent with hospital fires, and electricity and water cuts that sparked protests.” Al-Sadr’s party participates and achieves good results in the elections, despite announcing that it will not run in person.

From a polling station in Iraq

From a polling station in Iraq

Investing Withdrawal!

The results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections, which took place this October, proved the correctness of the analysis of researcher Hamdi Malak, where The Sadrist movement won 73 seats, according to preliminary results announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission, figures that exceed its results in the 2018 elections, when the “Sairoon” coalition won 54 seats.

The leader of the “National Wisdom Movement” Ammar al-Hakim, for his part, had tweeted last July 16, urging Muqtada al-Sadr to return to political life, saying, “We urge our brother, His Eminence Muqtada al-Sadr, to reverse his decision to withdraw from the elections and to continue the joint national effort and not to evacuate The arena is an important public pole, and we affirm that preserving democratic practice and not withdrawing from it is the only way to address failures and bring justice to the people who aspire to obtain their rights.

The surprise is that Al-Hakim, who engaged in political work from the “national” gate, straying as far as possible from sectarian classifications, religious discourses, and “political Islam”, suffered an unexpected loss in the last elections, while Al-Sadr, who withdrew, was the biggest winner.

Ammar al-Hakim

Ammar al-Hakim

Ammar al-Hakim is not the only one who asked Muqtada al-Sadr to participate in the “parliamentary elections.” There is also the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who wrote on his account on the “Twitter” platform, stressing that “the Sadrist movement is an important segment in society, and it is unimaginable not to participate In the elections, Iraq is a trust in everyone’s neck.”

The modest results achieved by the “Al-Fateh Alliance” and the strong rise of the “Sadr movement”, will make the latter a “meal egg” in the formation of the next Iraqi government, as it is likely that The Sadrists allied themselves with the Progress bloc and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Some “independent” deputies, and perhaps also those affiliated with the “Tishreen Youth” movement, may allied with him, although the “Tishreenists” view al-Sadr and others as being part of the ruling political class that brought Iraq to its current “deteriorating” situation, but after the victory of a number of Their deputies may be politically realistic, and temper “revolutionary dreams” a bit.

Reasons for ascent?

The rise of the “Sadr movement” may be seen as a result of the widespread reluctance to vote from different sectors of the Iraqis, and consequently, the weak participation of many, matched by a balanced presence of the “Sadrists”, who are characterized by “hearing and obedience to their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr”, and the ability of the organizational base His tendency to mobilize, especially in cities and governorates that suffer greatly from poverty and low services. Surprisingly, however, the “Sadrists” also achieved success in governorates such as “Najaf”, which includes the “Al Hawza Al-Ilmiyya”, a governorate that is not considered a strategic depth for Muqtada al-Sadr. On the contrary, there is a wide public opinion that criticizes Sadr’s speech and his political and intellectual positions.

Muqtada al-Sadr also benefited from his political positioning, as he presents himself as an “Iraqi Arab”, interested in the independence of the Iraqi decision from external influences. Where he removed himself from the “Iranian axis” without antagonizing it, and at the same time he opened, albeit partially, to the Gulf states, and visited important capitals such as Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives al-Sadr in Saudi Arabia (archive)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives al-Sadr in Saudi Arabia (archive)

This political position was largely consistent with the orientations of Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s government, especially since Al-Sadr sent messages of support to a number of government policies, as he praised the Iraqi Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE last April, and considered that “Iraq’s openness to Arab countries is a step towards The right way”.

Stop the attacks!

On the other hand, although Muqtada al-Sadr owns an armed militia, the “Peace Brigades”, he worked to neutralize it from engaging in the agenda of the “state factions”, and the brigades no longer engage in any combat activities against the American forces in Iraq. On more than one occasion, he renewed his call to address the problem of uncontrolled weapons, stressing that “weapons are confined to the hands of the state and their use outside this scope is prohibited, even for those who claim resistance.” In his speech shortly after the announcement of the preliminary results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections.

From here, Muqtada al-Sadr seeks to invest the progress made by his movement in the elections, and achieve political and ministerial gains, and even if he did not name a prime minister from his movement, and rename Mustafa Al-Kazemi, it will be in accordance with an agreement between the two personalities and the allied blocs, in a way that achieves a balance between them, and also grants Al-Sadr gains in the sovereign ministries, and makes his speech influential and audible.

The euphoria of the “Sadrists” may be great now, but the reluctance of the “old comrades in arms” may put great obstacles in front of them, andAt worst, they might get involved in armed skirmishes. The “wise people” do not want it to fall in Iraq.

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