The escalating conflict between Muqtada Sadr and Nouri Maliki has raised further barriers to the formation of a new government.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images
July 19, 2022
Muqtada Sadr has demanded that Nouri al-Maliki quit politics, following the release of an audiotape in which Maliki threatened violence against Sadr and other parties. Sadr also asked the former prime minister’s political allies within the Coordination Framework, and Maliki’s tribe, Bani Malik, to denounce his statements.
“The threat (of killing me) comes from the Dawa Party, which is affiliated with the al-Sadr family, and from their leader al-Maliki,” Sadr tweeted, referring to the tape in which Maliki attacked Sadr and threatened to take arms against him.
“The next stage is fighting, and that al-Sadr wants blood as he speaks of it, and I told Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that I do not trust the army and the police, and everyone will defend himself, and I will defend myself while I work for them and we have tanks, armored vehicles and drones,” Maliki said on the tape.
Although Maliki said it was a fake, it was shared widely, and many specialists confirmed it is authentic.
The leak includes the statement “Iraq is going toward a fierce war, if Muqtada’s project … does not fail,” and that if a war happens, Maliki’s tribe, the Bani Malik, will fight against his enemies. The tape also includes strong attacks against the Sunnis and the Kurds and even the religious seminary of Najaf for their differences with Maliki in the past.
In his tweet, Sadr asked Maliki to quit politics and hand himself over to the judiciary in hope to be forgiven.
Following Sadr’s tweet, Maliki’s party and tribe both issued statements, creating distance between themselves and the statements mentioned in the tape.
“We will not enter into a conflict with any party,” Dawa party announced in a statement on July 19. “We will not be taken into a blind strife among Iraqi people.”
The highest sheikh of Bani Malik also announcedthat his tribe will not enter any conflict among political groups and they will distance themselves from the current conflict.
This all comes while the Coordination Framework attempt to form the new government in Iraq. Maliki was one of the main candidates, but it seems very difficult now for him to be nominated, especially since some parts of the statements in the tape can be prosecuted based on Iraqi law.
The parliament had scheduled a session for selecting the president on July 18 but it was cancelled due to the controversy over the tape leak.
Although Muqtada Sadr had withdrawn from Iraqi parliament last month to break the political deadlock, his social and political influence still means that no any government with tendency against him can be formed.
Last Friday, Muqtada Sadr set conditions for forming the new governments, including ending the militia presence and distancing the Popular Mobilization Units from politics. This clearly shows that Sadr is still willing to play a central role in Iraqi politics, using his widespread social base.
In such circumstances, it seems unlikely for now that the Coordination Framework be able to form a government. The only solution seems to be an early election, which requires at least a year of preparation in Iraq.
The caretaker government will face great challenges during this time to manage the country without budget and to work on amending the electoral law demanded by the political parties and also by a ruling of the federal court.