Lawmakers From Iraq’s Biggest Bloc Resign

Iraq election remains unresolved, resignations may force the issue

73 MPs from Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s political bloc, the largest plurality in the October election, tendered their resignations Sunday, with parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi accepting the resignations.

Eight months after election, the deadlines to form a government have long-since been missed. Sadr’s bloc was never able to fully form a government, with opponents boycotting sessions for votes on the president. Sadr’s bloc and allies had a very narrow majority.

The primary rival Shi’ite party, State of Law, was trying to convince Sadr to form a grand coalition including them both. Sadr ruled this out, and his call for resignations was in part meant to preclude this.

Sadr had suggested that the stalemate should lead to a fresh election, and the resignations may try to force the issue on that. At the same time, the law suggests resignations at this stage could just be replaced with second-place finishers in those elections.

If that’s what ends up happening, State off Law would be the largest beneficiary, likely setting the stage for Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, and Sadr to be left out entirely.

That’s not what Sadr has in mind, surely, but it is only his large number of supporters that are there to prevent that.

With deadlines passed, Iraq is in somewhat uncharted territory here, and trying to maintain relative calm is going to be a significant challenge. Unrest in Iraq has mounted from the political impasse.

Iraq has some troubles, including soaring food prices. Without a government, there is no one to pass bills. Opponents have been trying to use this to force an agreement on a coalition. Sadr maintains that any grand coalition would violate the anti-corruption vision of his bloc.

The resignations have been accepted by the speaker, though to finalize it will still take a vote. Iraq’s parliament isn’t set to meet again until August, however, so this is likely to remain unresolved for some time.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.