Observers warn of potential conflict between CF and Sadrist movement in southern Iraqi cities

Observers warn of potential conflict between CF and Sadrist movement in southern Iraqi cities

Shafaq News  / The southern provinces (Basra, Dhi Qar, and Maysan) have entered a significant phase of electoral conflict, with observers anticipating an armed confrontation in the economic gateway of Iraq. This escalation comes at a time when most citizens of those provinces are suffering from a decline in essential services and living standards.

In Basra province, residents affirmed their participation in the electoral process despite the despair they are experiencing. They express hope that these elections will succeed in advancing stalled projects and other initiatives, especially given that the provincial council elections directly impact the lives of Basra's citizens.

Citizens spoke to Shafaq News agency about fears of an armed clash between the Sadrist movement and several factions within the Coordination Framework (CF), either during the elections or following the announcement of their results. This concern arises due to the oil-rich Basra region's factions promoting the idea that Udai Awad, a candidate of the Nabni alliance within the Sadiqoun bloc affiliated with Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, stands the best chance of assuming the position of governor. They highlight that "Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq wants Awad to become the governor, but the majority in Basra support the continuation of Asaad al-Eidani."

"There will be a security crisis and chaos if Awwad wins, especially between the Sadrist Movement and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. The Sadrist Movement cannot accept a governor aligned with Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq in Basra, especially after recent crises between these factions," stated one citizen.

Civil activist Ammar Al-Hilfi from Basra initially opposed the return of provincial councils, citing their hindrance to governors' work due to excessive bureaucracy. However, he acknowledged that individualistic decision-making by some governors led to developmental progress in certain governorates.

"The competition for the governorship in Basra is primarily between Asaad Al-Eidani and the Nabni Alliance, which nominated Adel Awwad. Al-Eidani, a determined figure, aims to secure over 12 seats. Failure to do so signals an agreement against him, primarily led by the State of Law Coalition, suggesting a non-renewal of his term," Al-Hilfi explained.

He highlighted the challenges facing Adel Awwad in assuming the governorship, emphasizing the tense atmosphere and armed conflicts between Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and the Sadrist Movement. "The Sadrist Movement is unlikely to accept Awwad as governor unless there's an agreement, given his previous Sadrists affiliation," he added.

Al-Hilfi expressed grave concerns about the lack of consensus among parties regarding Awwad's potential governorship, warning of a potential prolonged security collapse in Basra, adversely affecting Iraq's economic hub.

"The future remains uncertain, and as Basra residents, we are apprehensive about what lies ahead, even if Al-Eidani retains his position. The provincial council will oppose him and potentially dismantle previous accomplishments," Al-Hilfi added.

In Maysan, amidst inadequate services, high population density, tribal and security crises, several candidates are vying for control. Political parties seek dominance surpassing state authority.

Civil activist Karar Al-Badiri highlighted the intense struggle preceding the elections, with competing factions and parties vying for the top spot traditionally held by the Sadrist Movement.

"The Sadrist Movement wields significant influence in Maysan and is a dominant force. However, other participating parties are striving to secure seats in the Provincial Council, causing significant apprehension among Maysan residents due to uncertainties about election participants and boycotters," Al-Badiri explained.

He voiced concerns about potential armed confrontations between factions, especially between the Nabni Alliance, State of Law Coalition, and the incumbent faction aligned with the Sadrist Movement post-elections.

Nasiriyah, the central hub of Dhi Qar governorate, has remained an epicenter of protest since massive demonstrations began across Iraq in October 2019, experiencing ongoing unrest and security instability.

Mahmoud Al-Asadi, a resident, emphasized persistent crises in Nasiriyah, noting support for protesters and attempts to discourage election participation. Notably, except for offices belonging to Saraya al-Salam, the military wing of the Sadrist Movement, all party headquarters in Nasiriyah were destroyed due to events in the last three years.

On the other hand, political analyst Najim Abd Tarish from Dhi Qar anticipated pre-arranged coordination among election participants, expecting the ruling party to ultimately decide the representation in forthcoming local governments, especially in Dhi Qar. However, he emphasized the absence of the Sadrist Movement and its potential impact, suggesting its unpredictability could create tensions across the country post-elections.

Tarish foresaw potential tensions and objections post-elections, likely over results, exploiting matters to sway public opinion. He concluded that the absence of the Sadrist Movement from the political arena might result in an agreement to select the next governor from Sadrists, State of Law, or other participating electoral blocs.

Furthermore, On November 13, the Sadrist Movement's leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, urged supporters to boycott provincial council elections, claiming it would diminish the legitimacy of the elections both domestically and internationally.

Al-Sadr's response to supporters' queries about election participation emphasized the impact on legitimacy, expressing his displeasure with participation from those perceived as corrupt and his satisfaction with their boycott, aiming to diminish corrupt dominance over Iraq.

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