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The Geopolitical Future Of Iraq Hangs In The Balance

While everyone is monitoring a war in Europe, Iraq - OPEC’s second-largest producer - is experiencing the climax of a long-running political stalemate that will have major geopolitical ramifications. Mass protests led by influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the premier anti-Iranian force, have taken the political situation to its breaking point. This is where Iraq’s future is decided, pro- or anti-Iranian. 

This week saw al Sadr’s protesters enter Iraqi parliament to create a standstill following the nomination of a pro-Iranian figure as a prime ministerial candidate. Al Sadr runs his protesters like the conductor of an orchestra. Normally, in such a situation, the leader of protests loses control and the protests take on a life of their own, but no such thing is happening here. On Tuesday, the fourth day of protests, Al Sadr ordered those same protesters to leave the building but set up right outside, in Baghdad’s Green Zone, and called for the dissolution of parliament and early elections. 

So just how influential is Al Sadr - a Shi’ite who opposes Shi’ite Iranian control in Iraq? He is influential enough to have a completely compliant public force of protesters to demonstrate his power, but not influential enough to have won a majority to form a government in last October’s parliamentary elections. His party won, but the win wasn’t solid enough, and he refused to form a coalition government. 


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