The chances of more violence erupting between Iraq‘s rival Shiite factions are high amid uncertainty over the country’s political future, particularly if caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi carries out his threat to step down, analysts have said.
At least 30 people, mostly supporters of influential cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, were killed in clashes with armed groups in the capital this week after he announced he was quitting politics.
Mr Al Sadr was frustrated in his attempts to form a government after a general election last October, despite his bloc emerging with the largest number of seats.
The cleric’s followers surrounded Parliament in protest since late July, as Mr Al Sadr pressed for dissolution of the assembly and fresh elections.
His rivals in the Iran-aligned Co-ordination Framework alliance have insisted a government should be formed and there is no need for another vote.
Omar Al Nidawi, an analyst with the NGO Enabling Peace in Iraq Centre, told The National that the situation was “as unpredictable as it gets”.
“The possibility for another flare-up remains high because Mr Al Sadr remains agitated, and is obviously far from being retired from politics,” he said.
On Thursday, clashes broke out in the south between the Saraya Al Salam militia, which is linked to Mr Al Sadr, and the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al Haq militia, leaving at least four fighters dead.
The leader of the Asaib, Qais Al Khazali, is part of the Co-ordination Framework political bloc.
Mr Al Sadr “does not seem to have a vision for a feasible way out of this predicament,” Mr Al Nidawi said.
The cleric commands a thousands-strong militia and has millions of loyal supporters across the country. His opponents, longtime allies of Tehran, control dozens of paramilitary groups that have been heavily armed and trained by Iranian forces.
Source : The National