Israeli troops kill Palestinian outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli troops kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian during clashes in the occupied West Bank late Sunday, hours after police fanned out in a tense east Jerusalem neighborhood trying to contain violence between ultranationalist Jewish activists and Palestinian residents.

Early Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Akram Abu Salah, 17, died from a gunshot to his head.

The clashes erupted after Israeli forces rolled into Silat al-Harithiya village near Jenin to destroy homes of two Palestinian detainees accused of opening fire at a car traveling near a West Bank settlement outpost and killing a settler in December.

Earlier in Jerusalem, unrest took place in Sheikh Jarrah, a flashpoint neighborhood where clashes last year helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other east Jerusalem neighborhoods are at risk of eviction by Jewish settler organizations, and tensions between the sides often escalate to violence.

The latest unrest erupted after a settler’s home was torched over the weekend. Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist lawmaker, responded to the fire by setting up a makeshift office early Sunday near the home of a family facing possible eviction. Palestinians moved in on Ben-Gvir’s tent, throwing plastic chairs in the afternoon and scuffling with his supporters.

Late Sunday, riot police sprayed putrid-smelling water to break up Palestinian protests. One video on social media showed an Israeli policeman kicking a young Palestinian man. Police reported at least 12 arrests.

The Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said 14 Palestinians were wounded, including four people shot with rubber bullets. Explosions from stun grenades used by police to disperse crowds could be heard during the evening.

Ben-Gvir, a follower of a radical rabbi who called for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel, accused police of using “extreme brutality” against his followers. He said he would spend the night in the area “so they will learn.”

In addition to the threatened evictions, thousands of Palestinians live in homes in east Jerusalem that face the threat of demolition because of discriminatory policies that make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to build new homes or expand existing ones. Threatened evictions, tied up in decades-old battles between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, set off protests and clashes last May that helped ignite the Gaza war.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. It later annexed east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites, in a move that is not recognized by the international community.

Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The city’s fate is one of the most divisive issues in the century-old conflict.

The Antichrist’s Muqtada al-Sadr’s Next Step In Iraq

Muqtada al-Sadr’s Next Step In Iraq

In a dramatic parliamentary session on January 9, the new Iraqi parliament reelectedMohamed al-Halbousi for a second term as speaker. While the vote further widened intra-Shia divisions, it also revealed Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s ability to change political dynamics across Iraq. The Sadrist Movement, the Sunni Taqadum and al-Azim alliance, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and other smaller factions attended the session and voted for Halbousi and his two deputies.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the parliament has thirty days from the first session to elect the country’s new president, who will then ask the largest bloc in parliament to form a government. To date, there is no agreement between Iraq’s main political powers. The post-2003 system in Iraq is centered on an informal power-sharing arrangement among Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds. Under this informal system, the prime minister’s post is reserved for a Shia, the position of speaker is reserved for a Sunni, and the president is required to be a Kurd.

Halbousi’s election can be seen as a victory for Sadr’s bloc over the Coordination Framework, a bloc that is largely aligned with Iran. Today, the political representation of the Iraqi Shia community is clearly divided into two main blocs. The first is the Sadrist Movement, which is led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most visible post-2003 political leaders. The other Shia bloc is the Coordination Framework, a loose coalition of mainly Shia parties that includes two former prime ministers and other influential Shia political figures.

The Sadrists claimed nearly 40 percent of the seats won by Shia in the October 2021 election. Due to the complex nature of its coalition, it is still unclear how many seats the Coordination Framework will command. Nevertheless, it appears that they will control at least seventy seats.

As the largest single party in parliament, the Sadrists voted for the reelection of Halbousi, while the Coordination Framework boycotted the vote. A similar division occurred among the Kurds. The KDP, led by Masoud Barzani, attended the vote, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) joined the Coordination Framework in boycotting the vote.

Sadr described the vote as an important step toward forming a national majority government. Since the October 2021 election, the Sadrists have considered either trying to form a national majority government in coalition with non-Shia parties or settling for the role of Iraq’s political opposition. The Coordination Framework has only proposed one option: forming a consensus government. For Sadr, forming a majority government would mean reaching out to the major winners within the Sunni and Kurdish communities while excluding other political forces across the spectrum. A majority government can certainly be a responsible and effective government with clear tasks, expectations, and responsibilities. However, this idea is rejected by the Coordination Framework and every major party besides Sadr’s.

Sadr is serious about forming a majority government, which would challenge the post-2003 status quo in Iraq. At the same time, he knows that he has no guaranteed support from the other parties. While the Sunnis and the KDP joined Sadr in the vote for speaker, electing a president and prime minister is much more complex. Any Sadrist national majority government will depend on the support of the KDP and the new alliance between Taqaddum and al-Azim, the major political winners among Iraq’s Kurds and Sunnis. With the seats of another Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Sadr could also lead a new government. On the other hand, Sadr could form a national majority government by dividing the Coordination Framework and gaining the support of Shia alliances such as the National Power of the State Coalition and the Fatah Alliance.

Sadr will face three key challenges in any attempt to form an alliance with the Kurds and Sunnis. First, though an understanding between Sadr, Barzani, and Halbousi existed prior to the election, the KDP and the Sunni parties have so far rejected the idea of forming an alliance with just one Shia bloc. In addition, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Coordination Framework’s leader, has tried to create new alliances in an attempt to increase the Framework’s seats. This has created a balance of seats between the two Sunni blocs, making it difficult for Halbousi to claim sole leadership or representation of Iraq’s Sunnis. Finally, if Sadr does manage to obtain the support of the KDP and Halbousi, the Sadrists—the Shia component of the coalition—will not constitute a majority, making it the first government not dominated by Shia since 2003. This may make it a struggle for the coalition to win the support of the Shia community. 

These challenges make it more likely that Sadr will try to reach out to Shia powers within the Coordination Framework to form a Sadr-led consensus government. The Sadrists may also consider settling as the opposition. The latter option may hold some appeal for Sadr, who has always presented himself as a renegadewho holds the government in Baghdad to account. Sadr’s supporters, who do not question his choices, may see Sadr as a true leader who sacrificed political power for the sake of the nation. This would not be the first time that Sadr threatened to leave a government and join the opposition. What is different today is that the Sadrists hold over seventy seats and could gain the support of smaller factions in order to create a sizable opposition bloc. If Sadr decides to take this path, he will create the most significant opposition force in the post-2003 Iraqi political system.

However, there are significant barriers that likely outweigh the perceived benefits of forming an opposition coalition. If Sadr does form an opposition coalition, it will only be because he has been prevented from forming a majority government. Considering the personal rivalry between Maliki and Sadr, this outcome will have broader implications for Sadr’s image and credibility.

Losing out on the ability to make appointments for the thousands of senior and special posts in the Iraqi government may also make Sadr hesitate to form an opposition coalition. Controlling these appointments allows politicians to direct national policy and advance their own political, ethnosectarian, and economic interests. Being in the opposition would prevent Sadr from taking advantage of this opportunity.

While Sadr enjoys a disciplined base and can afford to change his positions without losing support, he knows that his victory was largely due to the Sadrists’ skillful handling of new electoral laws. While they gained nineteen seats in the recent election, their share of the popular vote decreased significantly. For many political activists within the Sadrist Movement, especially those who worked hard during the election campaign, being in the opposition would prevent them from reaping the rewards that they believe Sadr owes them.

Lastly, if Sadr is not included in the next government, the Coordination Framework and the militias aligned with it will dominate Iraq. This would allow the militias to continue operating outside of Iraq’s security forces without facing pressure from the government. The crackdown on illegally owned weapons that Sadr campaigned on would not be implemented, and Sadr would disappoint the international supporters who saw in him a means to reduce the influence of pro-Iranian armed groups.

With all this in mind, it is likely that a partial consensus government will be formed. There is nothing new about a consensus government. However, what is new is that it may be a consensus government that advances the political, ideological, and international priorities of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Kamaran Palani is an Associate Fellow at Al Sharq Strategic Research, a Research Fellow at the Middle East Research Institute, and Lecturer in International Relations at Salahaddin-University-Erbil. His research interests include Iraqi politics, regional Kurdish politics, de facto statehood in the international system, internal displacement and prevention of violent extremism in Iraq.

Antichrist’s Push to Sideline Iran-Backed Iraqi Factions Risks Clash

Sadr’s Push to Sideline Iran-Backed Iraqi Factions Risks Clash

Friday, 14 January, 2022 – 11:15

Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr speaks after preliminary results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Najaf, Iraq October 11, 2021. (Reuters)Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraq might for the first time in years get a government that excludes Iran-backed parties if Shiite populist cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, who dominated a recent election keeps his word, Iraqi politicians, government officials and independent analysts say according to Reuters.

But moves by Sadr to sideline rivals long backed by Tehran risks the ire of their heavily armed militias that make up some of the most powerful and most anti-American military forces in Iraq, they say.

The surest sign of Sadr’s new parliamentary power and his willingness to ignore groups loyal to Iran came on Sunday when his Sadrist Movement, together with a Sunni parliament alliance and Kurds, reelected a parliamentary speaker opposed by the Iran-aligned camp with a solid majority.

Parliament must in the coming weeks choose the country’s president, who will call on the largest parliamentary alliance to form a government, a process that will be dominated by the Sadrist Movement whoever it chooses to work with.

“We are on track to form a national majority government,” Sadr said in a statement this week, using a term that officials say is a euphemism for a government made up of Sadrists, Sunnis and Kurds but no Iran-backed parties.

Sadr’s politicians, buoyed by their easy victory in parliament last week, echoed their leader’s confidence.

The Iran camp “should face reality: election losers can’t make the government,” said Riyadh al-Masoudi, a senior member of the Sadrist Movement.

“We have a real majority, a strong front that includes us, the Sunnis, most of the Kurds and many independents and can form a government very soon.”

Iraqi politicians and analysts say the rise of Sadr and political decline of the Iranian camp, long hostile to the United States, suits Washington and its allies in the region, despite Sadr’s unpredictability.

But excluding the Iran camp from government risks a violent backlash.

“If the Sadrists get their national majority government … those who oppose them will view this as splitting the Shiites and threatening their power,” Ahmed Younis, an Iraqi political and legal analyst, said.

“They will do all they can to avoid losing that grip.”

Shiite groups have dominated Iraqi politics since the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. They span an array of parties, most with armed wings, but fall broadly now into two camps: those that are pro-Iran and those that oppose Tehran’s influence in Iraq.

The Shiite elite have shared control over many ministries, with Iran-aligned groups holding the upper hand until the recent rise of Sadr, the biggest winner in the Oct. 10 election which dealt a crushing blow to the Iran camp.

For the first time post-Saddam, the Iran-aligned groups could see themselves in opposition in parliament.

‘Scary moment’

Events since the election have showed how dangerous the sharpening divide between Sadr and his Iran-backed opponents has become.

In November, protests opposing the election result by supporters of those parties turned violent and an armed drone attack blamed on Iran-linked factions struck a residence of outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, widely viewed as a close Sadr ally.

On Friday an explosion hit the Baghdad party headquarters of newly re-elected parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.

It was not immediately clear if this was linked to Halbousi’s election by parliament on Sunday or who was responsible. There was no claim of responsibility. One Iran-aligned group issued a warning this week after the parliament’s decision that Iraq could see a spiral of violence.

An Iraqi government official, who declined to be named, said he expected those in the Iran camp to use the threat of violence to get a place in government, but not to escalate into a full-scale conflict with Sadr.

Other observers, however, say Sadr’s insistence on sidelining Iran-aligned parties and militias could be a dangerous gamble.

“The question is, does he (Sadr) realize how potentially destabilizing this is and is he ready for the violent push back?” said Professor Toby Dodge of the London School of Economics.

“The (Iran-backed) militias are increasingly overtly threatening violence, and Sadr is saying they cannot do this. It’s a scary moment.”

Halbousi’s election was viewed as an easy victory for the Sadrists. But the stakes will be higher in selecting a president and a prime minister.

Politicians on both sides of the Shiite divide show little sign they might soften their positions.

“The Sadrists … marginalizing parts of the Shiite political class could lead to boycotts of the government, protests in the street and armed violence,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, a senior member of the Iran-aligned Fatah political alliance.

A second Sadrist politician, who declined to be named on orders from his party, said: “We’re powerful, we have a strong leader and millions of followers who are ready to take to the streets and sacrifice themselves.”

The Antichrist expected to nominate Kadhimi for Iraq’ premiership

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Najaf, Iraq, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)

Sadrist Movement expected to nominate Kadhimi for Iraq’ premiership

The prime minister is fully engaged in a campaign to fight corruption, which is at the core of the Sadrists’ reform agenda.Thursday 13/01/2022

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Najaf, Iraq, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)

BAGHDAD-

Iraqi political sources say that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is smoothly gliding towards a new term in office, given the support he enjoys from the Sadrist Movement.

The sources point out that Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sees Kadhimi as the most capable figure who could lead a “national majority” government to be formed by the Sadrists with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

The sources note that the objections of the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework Shia parties to Kadhimi are not of much concern to the Sadrists.

Iraq watchers point out that Kadhimi, despite the modest results achieved during his current term in office, has shown himself to be able to deal effectively with Iraq’s quandaries and has demonstrated a great measure of pragmatism in handling foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.

Analysts say there is no external veto on Kadhimi. Even Tehran does not object to his nomination as it does not consider the premier, in the final analysis, to be a threat to its interests.

They believe that the only obstacle to Kadhimi’s accession to the premiership is the opposition of the pro-Iranian militias. But these forces will ultimately have no choice in the matter if Muqatada Al-Sadr insists on nominating Kadhimi and if the latter wins the support of the Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

The prime minister had met, on Monday, the leader of the Al-Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, Al-Hadi Al-Amiri, in Baghdad.  The purpose of the visit, according to sources, was to de-escalate tensions with the alliance, considered a political offshoot of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

Kadhimi also visited Najaf, Wednesday. Sources close to the prime minister said the visit was a follow-up to a previous visit, less than a week ago, during which the prime minister examined the state of services in the governorate, the stronghold of the Sadrist Movement.

During his earlier visit to Najaf,  where he was warmly welcomed by Sadr, Kadhimi announced a set of measures regarding local affairs of the west-central province.

Analysts say Kadhimi has recently been leading an active campaign to burnish his own image, by announcing a number of development projects and reshuffling governors and senior officials so as to remove from office those suspected of corruption or the repression of protests, as was the case with the governor of Dhi Qar.

Iraqi affairs experts believe that the recent anti-graft measures taken by Kadhimi are consistent with the positions advocated by the Sadrist Movement and its leader, putting corruption at the forefront of the reform project they want to be implemented after the formation of a national majority government.

Iraq’s Integrity Commission announced on Wednesday the issuance of arrest warrants and summons for 85 high-ranking officials, on corruption-related charges, during the month of December.

A statement by the official commission, tasked with investigating corruption cases in Iraq, said that judicial authorities issued the warrants after the investigation by the Integrity Commission of cases in Baghdad and other provinces. It indicated that 21 arrest warrants and 77 summonses were issued, including one involving a current government minister, as well as a number of former ministers, in addition to former parliamentarians, governors and other senior officials. No names were however revealed.

Iraq is considered to be among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the Transparency International index over the past years.

Last October, the country held early legislative elections in the wake of large protests against corruption since 2019.

The leader of the Sadrist Movement has focused during the election campaign on the need to prioritise the fight against corruption.

Observers believe that Kadhimi’s anti-corruption moves, at this particular time, are a prelude to his assumption of the premiership in the government, which the Sadrist movement is to form, despite the misgivings of the Shia forces loyal to Iran.

Antichrist defends Sunni and Kurdish allies after militia threats

Iraq’s Moqtada Al Sadr defends Sunni and Kurdish allies after militia threats

Since October’s national elections Shiite rivals have grown more divided, threatening to prolong process for forming new government

Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has pitted himself further against his Iran-backed Shiite rivals amid rising tension over forming a new government.

Since October’s national elections Shiite rivals have grown more divided, with the Sadrist Bloc emerging as the clear winner while Iran-backed factions suffered a significant drop in support.

These rifts deepened when Mr Al Sadr joined forces with Sunni and Kurdish parties to pick the parliament speaker and his deputies during the first session after the elections.

The move angered the pro-Iran camp, which includes influential Shiite militias who boycotted the session, and they issued threats against Sunnis and Kurds.

“We will not allow anyone, whomever he is, to threaten our partners and the social peace,” Mr Al Sadr said in a statement posted on his Twitter account late on Tuesday, referring to his Sunni and Kurdish allies.

“There will be no return to the sectarian violence and warfare,” he said, in a reference to the sectarian tit-for-tat attacks that engulfed the country in 2005 and 2006. His now-disbanded Mahdi Army militia were blamed for playing a major role in the civil conflict.

“The next government will be one of law and there will be no place for any violation from anyone,” he said.

Mr Al Sadr’s political group won 73 seats in October national elections, becoming the clear winner, but fell short of gaining the majority — 165 seats in the 329-seat parliament — needed to form the government.

Former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, who heads the State of Law bloc, won 33 seats, and the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance won 17.

For months, Mr Al Sadr and the Iran-allied Co-ordination Framework have failed to reach a deal.

The long-running dispute between Mr Al Sadr and Mr Al Maliki is one of the main obstacles to any deal, as the Shiite cleric seeks to exclude his rival from the next government. Their enmity dates back to 2008, when Mr Al Maliki launched a military operation against the Mahdi Army.

In his statement, Mr Al Sadr struck a defiant tone.

“We are proceeding with the formation of the national majority government and our door is open for some of those we still think well of,” he said, referring to other members of the Co-ordination Framework he has been wooing.

During the first session of parliament on Sunday, which was chaired by the eldest member of the legislative body, Mahmoud Al Mashhadani, both rival Shiite groups claimed to be the largest bloc.

According to the constitution, the largest bloc will be asked to form the government.

Mr Al Mashhadani asked to check the names and the signatures on both lists with a committee, causing chaos inside the hall and leading to a heated discussion between him and some Shiite politicians who gathered around him.

He then appeared to faint and was taken out of the parliament building for treatment, disrupting the session. But proceedings later resumed with the second oldest member, Khalid Al Daraji, and the Parliament Speaker and his two deputies were elected, resulting in MPs from the Co-ordination Framework walking out in a protest against the move.

On Monday, Alia Nussayif, a senior member of the State of Law, held Sunnis and Kurds accountable for creating “a rift among the Shiites.”

In an interview with a local TV station affiliated to a powerful pro-Tehran Shiite militia, Ms Nussayif went further, warning them that the “fire will catch them” if confrontations among Shiites erupted.

Hours later, Abu Ali Al Askari, a spokesman for the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah armed group, issued a warning that “Iraq could see tough days and all will lose”.

The elections last October were the fifth parliamentary vote for a full-term government since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

They were held months earlier than scheduled to try to appease the pro-reform protest movement that surfaced in 2019.

Updated: January 12th 2022, 6:47 AM

Iraq’s speaker re-elected with backing of the Antichrist

This picture taken on Sept. 26, 2021, shows current parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi.

Mohammed al-Halbusi is Iraq’s speaker of parliament for a second term despite opposition from Shiite parties aligned with Iran.

Iraq’s speaker re-elected with backing of Muqtada al-Sadr

This picture taken on Sept. 26, 2021, shows an electoral campaign billboard ahead of Iraq’s early legislative elections depicting current parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi, in the city of Ramadi. – SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty ImagesHassan Ali Ahmed@hassanaIiahmed

Mohammed al-Halbusi is Iraq’s speaker of parliament for a second term despite opposition from Shiite parties aligned with Iran.

Iraqi electionsJanuary 10, 2022

BAGHDAD — The first session of Iraq’s new parliament was held on Jan. 9. In that session, new parliament members voted that Mohammed al-Halbusi will serve a second term as speaker of the Iraqi parliament.

From the start of the day, different party members showed their strengths via different methods.

Independent members representing the Tishreen protest movement made their way to parliament in tuk-tuks. The three-wheeled vehicle became a symbol of the protesters during the 2019 October demonstrations, eventually representing the entire Tishreen movement.

Sunni members from both rival groups, the Taqaddom Alliance and the Azm Alliance, gathered around for a photo op before the start of the session. Kurds and other minority members wore traditional clothing to the session.

The strongest presence was that of Sadrists, who tied white fabric on their shoulders symbolizing burial shrouds as a means to send a message to their rival Shiite parties that they intend to fight to the death.

Shiite parties were sharply divided after the elections. Sadrists (the biggest winners) won 74 seats and are calling for a majority government. Their Shiite rivals — including among others the Fatah Alliance (affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Units), Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma bloc, Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr coalition — are calling for a consensual government. They all gathered under the name of the Coordination Framework with a total of 59 seats.

The main reason behind the dispute between the Sadrists and the Coordination Framework is that the former wants to form the government with its Kurdish and Sunni allies and without other Shiite parties. But Framework members, who lost the elections to the Sadrists, want to remain in power and receive a share of the new government.

Coordination Framework members strongly objected to the election results as they realized that Muqtada al-Sadr’s rise to power would eliminate them from the government. Hence, they claimed election fraud and pushed their followers to protest at the Green Zone.

Protesters set up camp for two months, demanding the annulment of election results and a new election. The protests turned violent a few times, but protesters quit and went home as they realized that their demands would not be met.

Having said that, the first session of Iraq’s new parliament wasn’t calm at all. The Coordination Framework tried to prevent Sadr from pushing the wheels for the majority government.

Sadr had brokered a deal with the Sunnis and Kurds. Less than a week ago, he received Sunni Taqaddom party leader Halbousi at his home in Najaf. This is while Sadr’s delegation traveled to Erbil to court Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) votes.

An anonymous source from Sadr’s political office told Al-Monitor that “Sadr has already built his coalition and has secured enough votes to form a majority government.”

Although Sadr has 74 seats, the abovementioned alliances provide him with enough votes to form a majority of 165 in the parliament, which is required for electing the parliament speaker and prime minister. Halbousi has 37 seats. The KDP controls 31 seats, which brings the number of Sadr’s coalition to 142. Sadr also has been granted the support of the Azm Alliance led by Khamis al-Khanjar, which provides him with 14 more seats. Sadr secured the remaining seats on Nov. 25 when he met with independent members who had won 43 seats.

Yesterday’s vote was a clear indication that Sadr’s majority government is moving ahead. Halbousi has received 200 votes against his rival, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who was nominated by the Coordination Framework.

Members of the Framework left the hall prior to the vote as they felt Mashhadani would not win. Mashhadani himself also tried to postpone the session for another day, but after he faced objections from Sadrists and their allies, he left for the hospital, claiming he was attacked by Sadrists.

This did not stop the session, and Halbousi was finally elected. Sadrist parliament member Hakim al-Zamli and KDP parliament member Shakhawan Abdullah were, respectively, elected as first and second deputy speakers of parliament.

The next phase is to elect the president; this requires two-thirds of parliament members. But the main challenge will be electing the prime minister, which takes place after the president is elected.

On Jan. 7, current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi traveled to meet Sadr at the cleric’s home in al-Hananah district in Najaf.

In response to Halbousi’s victory, Kadhimi tweeted, “A historic and great day for Iraq, and an opportunity for all to unite to build a strong state.”

Iran reportedly has sought to sway Kurdish and Sunni parties to avoid their aligning with Sadr, fearing that such an alliance would undercut the influence of those parties aligned with Tehran.

Their efforts seem to be so far unsuccessful.

In such circumstances, the majority government looks to be already set, and for the first time after 2003, there will be a majority government and a strong opposition in parliament led by Iran’s allies.

The Hypocrisy of the Antichrist

A mask-clad youth walks in front of a large poster of Iraq's populist Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, Baghdad on July 15, 2021. File Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Sadr denounces militias, sectarian government ahead of first parliament meeting

yesterday at 09:53

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Saturday again denounced the prevalence of militias in the country and called for a united government ahead of the new parliament’s first session.

“Today, there is no place for sectarianism and no room for racism,” reads a statement from Sadr, whose political bloc won 73 seats, the largest number, in Iraq’s October parliamentary election. 

“There is no place for militias, for everyone will support the army, and police, and security forces,” the cleric, who himself founded the active militia Saraya al-Salam, added. 

Sadr’s statement comes a day ahead of the new parliament’s first sitting, where members will be sworn in, and parties are set to elect the parliamentary speaker and its deputies. 

Early elections were called in response to mass protests in the country beginning in October 2019, caused by widespread dissatisfaction with Iraq’s politicians and endemic corruption in the country. 

Sadr, winning the largest parliamentary bloc, has previously expressed opposition towards militias, and has called for having the state control arms. 

The Sadrist bloc has also begun efforts to establish a cabinet containing the election’s largest winners. A delegation from the Sadrist bloc met with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani in Erbil on Tuesday, discussing the October 10 elections and the formation of a new government for Iraq.  

According to a long standing agreement, the three main positions in Iraq are divided among Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Whereas, Kurds get the presidency, Shiites get the premiership, and Sunnis get the parliamentary speaker. 

According to Article 54 of the Iraqi constitution, when the election results are confirmed, it sets in motion a process for the winning parties to form a government. Within 15 days of the ratification of the results, the president calls on the parliament to meet, chaired by its eldest member, and elect a speaker and two deputies by an absolute majority during its first session according to Article 55. The parliament also elects a president from among candidates by a two-thirds majority.  

The president then tasks the largest bloc in the parliament with forming the government, naming a prime minister within 15 days of the election of the president. The prime minister-elect then has 30 days to name a cabinet.

Antichrist declares ‘no place for militias’ in Iraq

Moqtada Al-Sadr declares ‘no place for militias’ in Iraq

The comment was made by Al-Sadr despite his Sadrist movement political faction having a militia called the Peace Companies associated with it.Moqtada Al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement has the highest number of MPs of any party [Getty]

Militia groups have no role to play in Iraq, Shia politician Moqtada Al-Sadr declared on Saturday, a day before Baghdad’s parliament was expected to sit.

Sadr, a former militia leader himself, urged Iraqis to rally behind the national army, police and security forces.

“Today, there is no place for sectarianism or ethnic division, but a national majority government where Shias defend the rights of minorities, the Sunnis and Kurds,” Al-Sadr tweeted.

“Today there is no place for militias, and everyone will support the army, police and security forces,” he continued, also rallying against corruption and calling on all sects to get behind reform.”

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MENA

While a governing coalition is yet to be formed, the Sadrist movement will have the highest number of lawmakers in parliament, after it won 73 out of 329 seats in recent elections – almost double the second-place Progress Party’s tally of 37.

Sadr, a former anti-US militia leader, has opposed all foreign interference in Iraq and repeatedly called for US troops withdrawal from his country.

Iraq’s October general election saw poor levels of participation and underwent a painstaking result-verification process.

Some experts and politicians hope for a new government by March.

Sunni, Kurdish blocs back the Antichrist

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (L) meets with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, January 6, 2021. (AFP)

Sunni, Kurdish blocs back Sadrist Movement ahead of parliament session but will Kadhimi be the PM?

BAGHDAD, Iraq-

The outline of a governing coalition has begun to emerge in Iraq with the success of Sunni forces, represented by Al-Taqaddom and Al-Azm blocs, in allying with each other, along with the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)  and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which have bridged their own differences. The formations are about to form a unified delegation in government formation talks.

Regarding the premiership, the Sadrist movement, which has avoided nominating any candidate for prime minister, is said to lean towards maintaining current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in his position, despite the objections of the Coordination Framework, which comprises Shia parties loyal to Iran.

Sadr has warmly received Kadhimi, Thursday, in the Najaf governorate amid cabinet formation talks.

Kadhimi said earlier that his visit to Najaf was “purely administrative and not of political in nature.” But Iraqi political sources said that the visit was not devoid of political significance especially considering its timing.

They noted that Sadr sees Kadhimi as the most capable figure that could lead a “national majority government”, which he seeks to form.

They attribute Sadr’s desire to hold on to Kadhimi to many considerations, including the current prime minister’s independence from political parties and his pragmatic management of crises during the past period. The soures add that Sadr and Kadhimi see eye to eye on many issues, especially security concerns, as the prime minister, much like the Sadrist movement’s leader, believes only the state should bear arms.

Pro-Iran forces are said, however, to be opposed to Kadhimi’s nomination to a new term in office as they consider him to be hostile to their interests.

Cementing alliances

Iraqi political analysts say that the current arrangements by Sunni and Kurdish parties are a prelude to declaring the formation of a larger alliance between these forces and the Sadrist movement.

The Sadrist Movement won the October legislative elections and want to form a “national majority” government that breaks with the consensus-based quota system, which has guided the country’s political process for years.

Analysts indicate that the road seems clear for the Sadrist Movement to forge a comfortable parliamentary alliance with the Sunni and Kurdish forces, especially if it also succeeds in including independents. This may usher in a new political era where pro-Iran forces are confined to leading the opposition camp.

They believe this emerging alliance is likely to break with the consensus-based system on which previous governments were built, which set the country on a slippery slope, where the political process was marred by ineptitude and the spread of nepotism and corruption.

Analysts caution, however, that the change in the rules of political engagement is unlikely to lead to improved living conditions for Iraqis, especially since the forces that will lead the next stage had been part of the ruling system against which the Iraqi street rose up.

The Sunni alliance of Al Takddom and Al Azm parties announced on Wednesday evening,  will be represented by 64 MPs as the opening session of parliament takes place next Sunday.

The creation of this alliance has been welcomed by the Sadrist movement and the KDP, which had been part of past efforts to bridge differences between the leaders of Takaddom and Al-Azm, former Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi and businessman Khamis al-Khanjar.

This nascent Sunni coalition also enjoys wider Arab support. The announcement of the alliance between the two Sunni blocs had been preceded by a joint tour, which took Halbousi and Khanjar to countries of the region, including the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.

In a press statement, Halbousi called for joint action to ensure the stability and reconstruction of the country and for common positions to help achieve the unity of Iraq. Khanjar said in a similar statement that the alliance being formed is intended to serve Iraq and promote the rights of its people. It would remain impervious to the pressures aimed at dissuading the Sunni blocs from joining hands.

Observers believe the success of Halbousi and Khanjar in overcoming the differences of the past is an important step that will allow their parties to play a pivotal role in Iraqi politics. They hope to restore a measure of balance within the political system and overcome the obstacles that have hindered their influence, including the dominance of pro-Iran factions as well as divisions within the Sunni camp itself.

Kurds united

New developments have also emerged within the Kurdish camp, specifically between the KDP and the PUK, which have reached a tentative agreement paving the way for the formation of a joint negotiating delegation.

KDP spokesman Mahmoud Mohamed al-Khamis confirmed the plan to form a joint delegation which will participate in talks on forming a government.

Khamis said the intention was to join an alliance with the Sadrist Movement and the Sunnis, as part of an effort aimed at putting together a majority government.

The spokesman backed the Sadrist break with the old quota system, saying, “The Sadrists support the formation of a national majority government, which in their view will not include all parties, as used to be the case in the past following the consensus-based system. This means there will be government parties and an opposition.”

This is the first clear and explicit statement on the KDP’s view of an alliance with the Sadrists.

“We have already endeavoured and will continue our attempts in the remaining few days to enlarge the majority, but if this cannot be achieved, there cannot be an institutional vacuum. We need to form a government to resolve current problems and make a decision in this regard during the next few days, ” said the KDP spokesman.

Observers believe that the road has been cleared for the launch of an alliance between the Sadrists, the Kurds and the Sunnis, noting that while the independents’ bloc may not join the alliance, it is likely to vote in favour of the new government in the parliament.

Last Thursday, Iraqi President Barham Salih signed a decree convening the new parliament in session for January 9.

In it, Salih stressed the need to “meet national interests by forming a competent and effective government that protects the interests of the country and enhances its sovereignty, as well as protects and serves Iraqis,” adding that “this requires solidarity in order to implement the reforms needed for a stable and prosperous Iraq.”

Early parliamentary elections were held in Iraq, October 10. The Sadrist movement took the lead with 73 seats out of 329, while the Progress Alliance won 37 seats, the Rule of Law coalition garnered 33 seats, while the Democratic Party took 31.

Antichrist Won’t Form Iraqi Government With Maliki

Sadr Won’t Form Iraqi Government With Maliki

October 10th’s parliamentary election in Iraq went through a lot of disputes, but on Sunday thenew parliament will meet for the first time. This is going to start a lot of complicated maneuverings.

The first step will be for parliament to agree upon a new speaker and new president. Traditionally those are Sunni Arabs and Kurds, respectively, though neither is a strict requirement.

Once that’s done, the new president is to call on the largest party to try to form a majority government. No coalition deals are in place, and the party of Moqtada al-Sadr, with 73 seats, needs to put together 165 seats to form a majority.

That’s no small task in Iraq, which is heavily politically divided. Officials further added that Sadr has ruled out including former PM Nouri al-Maliki in the coalition, which leaves his 33 seats on the outside.

It isn’t a shock that Sadr and Maliki wouldn’t work together, as Maliki long had problems with Sadr when he governed. Maliki wanted a Shi’ite dominated government, while Sadr heavily advocates an independent, nationalist coalition.

Sadr is known to have talked with the Fatah Party, who offers 17 seats. Other big blocs of seats would be the Kurdish Democrats’ 31 seats, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s 19 seats, and the two big Sunni Arab blocs Taqadum and Azm, who have 37 and 34 seats, respectively.