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Al Sadr assures that the new Iraqi government will be free from outside influence

The Shiite cleric has made initial contacts with other political formations for the creation of the government
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PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

Since the Electoral Commission ratified the results of the Iraqi elections that gave victory to the Sadarist Movement, a new chapter in Iraqi politics has opened. The appeals to the elections of 10 October were disregarded by the commission and the 73 seats won by the party led by Al Sadr served to position it as the winner and, if everything follows the trend shown by the latest movements, to form a new government. This will be, as Al Sadr said on his Twitter account, "a government of national unity, neither Eastern nor Western".

The cleric has already met with the leaders of various Shiite groups to test the possibilities for the formation of the government. One of the first groups he met with was precisely one that was against the election results, the Iraqi Coordination Framework. The meeting with this group comprising several Shia parties was attended by paramilitary leader Hadi al-Ameri, who heads the Al Fateh party, and Qais Al Khazali, secretary general of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl Al Haq, and Falih Al Fayyadh, head of the government's Popular Mobilisation Commission.

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AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Employees of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission conduct a manual vote count after parliamentary elections in the Green Zone area of Baghdad on October 13, 2021.

Although he is seeking agreement with the other parties because his 73 seats fall far short of the 165 needed for an absolute majority in the 329-member parliament, there are major complications. Muqtada Al Sadr does not consider, at least for the time being, the possibility of forming a coalition government. His intention would be to get enough support to carry through his investiture without having members of other parties in the new government. However, it does not appear that the other parties are going to make it easy for the cleric, who believes that a multi-party government would not be in the "interests of the Iraqis".

The influence that Iran has had - and will continue to have until the new government marks a separation with Tehran, which remains to be seen - on Iraqi politics is one of the aspects that Al Sadr wants to change. To this end, Muqtada al-Sadr could move closer to Taqadum (Progress Party), a Sunni group led by Mohamed al-Halbusi, the president of the parliament, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. The 41 and 31 seats won by these parties respectively would make a total of 145 with those of the Sadarist Movement, leaving only 20 seats short of an absolute majority, which could be achieved thanks to the support of the independents.

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AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Fatah Alliance (Conquest), during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq's capital, on December 4, 2021.

Just a month ago, some of those who are now meeting with al-Sadr to negotiate the conditions for possible support for the Shiite cleric's candidacy were directly attacking the Electoral Commission. Al Fateh claimed that "it is clear and beyond any doubt that the Electoral Commission has prepared the election results in advance, at the expense of the will of the Iraqi people". However, everything could change if Muqtada al-Sadr manages to meet at least part of the demands of those led by Hadi al-Ameri and thus manage to build a new government that will definitively bring about the change that the Iraqi people have been demanding for years, far from Iranian interference.