By Pierre AYAD at AFP: The Iraqi political scene has been ablaze for the past 72 hours due to the emergence of recordings attributed to Nuri al-Maliki, the ex-Iraqi PM, in which he appears to be criticizing Moqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s strongest political figures whose faction won big in the 2021 general parliamentary election.
“The issue is that there is a British project aiming to put Moqtada in control of the Shia and Iraq, then they would kill him and give Iraq to the Sunnis. The issue is not al-Maliki [myself], I can just leave and take refuge in the house of Malek and have 2000 fighters protecting me, no one will be able to get to me. That project exists, but I am fighting it, and it is to be fought politically and militarily,” said Nuri al-Maliki about his longtime political rival, Moqtada al-Sadr, in a leaked recording.
“Iran helped al-Sadr, to make him a new Nasrallah [Lebanese Hezbollah chief] in Iraq”, he continued in his tirade against the Shiite leader. “Moqtada is a murderer, how many did he kill in Baghdad? The kidnappings, the car bombs, he is not a master, he is a coward, a traitor, an ignorant who knows nothing (…) I know the Sadrists, I fought them in Basra, Karbala and Baghdad, we had no weapons and the Iranians had given them advanced missiles and we still won,” he said of al-Sadr and his followers.
Nuri al-Maliki, leader of the Shiite party known as the State of Law Coalition and one of the leaders of the Coordination Framework, a Shiite coalition currently holding parliamentary majority, denied the veracity of the recordings via Twitter. He said that the recordings, released on social media by journalist Ali Fadel, were fake. Moqtada al-Sadr, for his part, said that the recordings mean nothing…
A political detachment from economic realities
Despite the oil revenues capable of lifting the country from financial ruin, Iraq continues to suffer an astounding lack of services, decaying infrastructure, corruption and rampant unemployment. The population has engaged in massive protests in recent years to try and change the situation, citing political corruption as the source of Iraq’s economic woes. In fact, it was the 2019-2021 protest movement in the country that lead to the 2021 elections, which in turn led to the current deadlock.
In Iraq, the squabbling factions seem to be simply fighting for power rather than acting to change the economic or political status quo. In fact, after nine months of political deadlock, the Iraqi parliament is nowhere near naming a new government and the current interim government has not employed any solutions for the country’s economic problems. “The people named on the list leaked by the government to replace Kazimi as prime minister would be difficult to get elected by the MPs. The Coordination can form a government, as it has the majority in Parliament. The continuation of said government is a whole different story, as no government can continue without Moqtada al-Sadr’s support”, said Najm Al-Qassab, an Iraqi political analyst and commentator.