Iraq is spiraling unstoppably into a fratricidal Shiite war

The fragile calm that has prevailed since three dozen people were killed in clashes in Baghdad and Sadr ordered his supporters to withdraw from government buildings in the so-called Green Zone represents only an exhalation in the power struggle between the preacher and Iran, which Iraq has included in its sphere influence and wants to keep it there.

Millions of loyalists stand behind Sadr

Sadr, the son of prominent cleric Muhammad Bakir Sadr, who stood up to dictator Saddam Hussein and paid the price with his life, is the ultimate authority for many Shiites, the country’s largest group. Sadr’s militia, formerly known as the Mahdi Army, which now operates under the name Peace Brigades, fought the Americans after the 2003 invasion.

Iraqi cleric Sadr leaves politics, country engulfed in unrest


The preacher has millions of followers in Iraq and presents himself as an Iraqi nationalist who opposes both US and Iranian interference. His Saairun (Arabic for Forward) alliance won the most parliamentary seats in the 2018 and 2021 elections.

But after the last elections, Sadr was unable to form a government without pro-Iranian forces. Therefore, in June, regardless of the tension, he withdrew the deputies from the parliament, and in July his supporters occupied the parliament building in Baghdad. Sadr thus proved that he is capable of paralyzing the legislature, which failed, for example, to approve the new state budget, and thus the functioning of the state as such.

The Ayatollah undermined the preacher’s authority

Iran intervened in the situation with the help of Sadr’s advisor and religious mentor, Ayatollah Kasem Hajri, who was a confidant of his father. He resigned from his religious post on Sunday and called on all Iraqi Shiites to recognize Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as their supreme religious authority.

This was a problem for Sadr: Hajri’s resignation undermined his legitimacy as a Shiite leader. Therefore, he took his call as a declaration of war and accused Tehran of impermissible interference.

The Iraqi minister gave a basket to the Tatra. Supposedly because of Israel


Just a day later, he announced his retirement from politics and sent his supporters into the streets. But Sadr’s withdrawal from public life is not the first: he announced his retirement from politics in 2014, and yet he has become one of the most powerful politicians in Iraq. This time too, political calculations are behind the download. He distances himself from the dysfunctional political system, which he says is delaying reforms in Iraq and keeping the country, despite its oil wealth, in dire poverty. In doing so, the preacher is actually calling for the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

To do this, he demands that Iraqi politicians who have been active since the US invasion in 2003 resign from all positions. The challenge is aimed at his main opponent, pro-Iranian ex-prime minister Núri Maliki. At the same time, Monday’s fighting showed that Sadr and his pro-Iranian opponents are waiting for an armed struggle for power, and not only that. According to Charles Lister of the Washington-based Middle East Institute, both sides are very well prepared for it.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Iraq spiraling unstoppably fratricidal Shiite war

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