Iraq’s Coalition-Building Shapes Up as Sadr Against Former PM Maliki

Sadr's anti-corruption and reform efforts rub many the wrong way

Trying to build a majority government in Iraq is never easy, and predictably the Sadrist movement is having the same trouble everyone is. With a strong-ish plurality, Sadr appeared to expect a coalition would form without much objection.

The problem is, Sadr’s bloc ran heavily on the idea of major reform and changing the system outright. That’s got other parties that accepted the status quo very nervous, and makes it hard to bring them in.

The face of the status quo is former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose party fared acceptably in the last election. The election seemingly tailor makes his party as the opposition leaders, but Maliki is trying to play to fears about Sadr’s calls for change to put together a majority coalition of his own.

Sadr has long sought an independent Iraq not beholden to foreign powers, while Maliki was a palatable premier for both the US and Iran. This has made Maliki an almost ideal surrogate for the counter-reform political factions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.