Iraq's Political Crisis: Interview with Aws al-Khafaji
Iraq currently finds itself in the grip of a political crisis principally rooted in a deadlock between the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr (the ‘Sadrists’) and the other Shi’a political factions in a coalition called ‘The Coordination Framework.’ The latter is backed by Iran though this does not mean that all factions of the framework are united by a pro-Iranian affinity or stance. What unites them principally is a negative: opposition to the prospect of Sadr dominating the Iraqi state.
While the framework generally prefers the idea of ‘consensus’ government that has arisen after every parliamentary election since 2003 and is the model of government formation in Iraq preferred by Iran, Sadr has touted the idea of a majoritarian coalition-led government, which would constitute a departure from the norm of government formation and be in keeping with Sadr’s rhetorical emphasis on ‘reform’ and his nationalism and supposed independence. That said, it is highly doubtful whether a Sadr-led shift to the concept of majoritarian government and an opposition would lead to meaningful reform, as opposed to Sadrist domination of the state and monopolisation of corruption in the hands of his followers, who themselves played a leading role in the previous consensus governments and exploited the positions they gained for their own benefit. Nor do Sadr and his followers have great ideas for moving beyond Iraq’s existing rentier state model in which the country relies on oil revenues and simply inflates the public sector to cope with growing job demand.