CF MP understates al-Sadr's call for a political fresh start in Iraq; Khashan says its a step back

CF MP understates al-Sadr's call for a political fresh start in Iraq; Khashan says its a step back

Shafaq News/ A leading figure in the Coordination Framework (CF) understated Muqtada al-Sadr's call for restarting the political process in Iraq without the classic powers, and an independent lawmaker says it signals a huge step back from the populist leader in preparation for back-tracking on his demands.

The leading figure in the mainly Iran-backed Shiite consortium, Aa'ed al-Hilali, said in a statement to Shafaq News Agency, "isolating the political forces and forcing them outside the political scene in Iraq is an irrational demand. These parties have a popular base that would not allow anyone to impose any control over their political choices."

"Al-Sadr's initiative cannot resolve the situation. Infact, it deepens the political division. The political parties in Iraq, not to mention the Shiite parties alone, will not allow any party to eclipse them and kick them outside," he added.

"I am willing to sign on Muqtada's agreement. I will only need the time to reach al-Hannana from my residence," independent lawmaker Bassem Khashan tweeted sarcastically.

"I also urge all the Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni, and minority parties, in addition to the independent MPs and the emerging political parties, to accede to it. It is the wish of all the Iraqis. I have no doubt. However, will the parties willing to sign find Sayyid Muqtada waiting for them?"

"Why would al-Sadr invite the parties even though he knows he knows they would not respond?" Kashan asked.

"The truth is that Salih Mohammad al-Iraqi's tweet is not a call for the Iraqi parties to dissolve themselves by themselves and refrain from participating in the political process, but rather a huge step back and a preamble for a back-track on his previous demands that he knew it will not be realized unless the people of Iraq, not only the parties, pay a huge price."

"Al-Sadr's withdrawal reconsideration is better than prolonging the extent of the chaos. I commend the al-Sadr's concern for the safety of the people and his commitment to peace because the alternative is perdition," he concluded.

Earlier today, a self-proclaimed advisor of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for holding an early election that excludes all the political parties that took part in the governance since the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mohammed Salih al-Iraqi, who runs a Twitter account named "the leader's advisor" and is widely believed to be al-Sadr's mouthpiece, said that holding an early parliamentary election is more important than dissolving the parliament.

"More importantly, all the parties and figures that participated in the political process since the US invasion in 2003 in any form; leaders, ministers, employees, senior officeholders... shall be banned from participating, including the Sadrist movement," al-Iraqi said in the tweet.

"I am ready, within 72 hours at most, to sign an agreement that includes this condition..starting from now," he added, quoting al-Sadr himself.

"If this does not take place, there is no room for reform...consequently, my intervention is not needed, neither in a tweet nor in any other means," he concluded.

Tensions inflamed in Iraq in recent weeks when al-Sadr commanded thousands of his followers to storm and occupy parliament, preventing the formation of a government nearly 10 months after elections.

The standoff in Iraq is the longest stretch without a fully functioning government in the nearly two decades since Saddam Hussein was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Al-Sadr was the biggest winner of the 2021 election but was unable to form a government with Kurdish and Sunni parties, excluding his Iran-backed Shiite rivals.

The young cleric, who has unmatched influence in Iraq, can quickly mobilize hundreds of thousands of followers to stage demonstrations and paralyze the country's byzantine politics.

Al-Sadr has called for early elections and unspecified changes to the constitution after withdrawing his lawmakers from parliament in June.

Al-Sadr's political opponents, mostly fellow Shiites backed by Iran, have refused to accede to his demands, raising fears of fresh unrest and violence in a conflict-weary Iraq.

He survived upheaval in the 19 years since his Mehdi Army militia took on the Americans with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in the streets and alleys of Baghdad and southern cities.

His followers also fought the Iraqi army, Islamic State militants and rival Shiite militias.

Most of Iraq's Shiite political establishment remains suspicious or even hostile to al-Sadr. Still, his political organization, the Sadrist movement, has come to dominate the apparatus of the Iraqi state since the 2018 election, taking senior jobs within the interior, defense, and communications ministries.

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