Four more years of corruption in Iraq foretold

Four more years of corruption in Iraq foretold

11 Jun 2022 (The Arab Weekly)

It would be foolish to warn the Iraqi people against Moqtada al-Sadr. At this late stage, advice does not work. No one can claim not to know the truth about the man who was presented in a sectarian hue as the “Shia leader” above any other rival.

Sadr occupies a leading position in the sectarian transformation that Iraq underwent after the US occupation. He was the man of the first civil war.

Nouri al-Maliki, who is more sectarian than Sadr, had managed that war in cooperation with the US forces, but from behind the scenes.

Sadr was a field commander. His boys led the campaign of extermination against innocent Iraqis, who became targets of revenge.

The then-young Shia leader began his brilliant career with the murder of Abdul Majeed Al-Khoei, the advocate of the British project in Iraq, whose survival was not suitable for American interests.

When the Najaf war broke out in 2004, it would have been easy for US forces to get rid of Moqtada al-Sadr by killing him, but they did not.

They saved him for the coming civil war so that the sectarian quota system would become a reality.

This prepared the ground for the transition of sectarianism from its political  dimension to the social level, which is the level at which Iraqis are at their worst. And that is actually what happened.

Moqtada al-Sadr was nothing but a puppet. All his family background is meaningless. That legacy is based on a succession of lies and myths.

His father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was hated in Najaf and in Iran. The circumstances of his assassination by the Iraqi regime were fabricated and suspicious. This is because the regime did not need to carry out such operations on Iraqi soil.

The regime of the time was idiotic, as it did not make public the details of the assassination and did not bother search for the perpetrators.

Against the background of that injustice, Moqtada the young orphan’s fortunes rose. He still relies on that legacy despite becoming a crucial actor within the system that he had more than once previously saved from collapse. Sadr’s role in thwarting the October 2019 protests was evident.

And if the voters in the last elections in 2021 gave him their votes, they did so only to reject the parties and militias that were openly pro- Iranian. Nonetheless, that did not vouch for his innocence of corruption.

Iraqis know that Sadr is as corrupt as others, if not the most corrupt of all.

He was responsible for the failure of electricity projects and the collapse of the health sector.  He ran the ministries that were under his tutelage and that came with an exorbitant price tag.

Today, Moqtada al-Sadr is striving to swallow the entire political system. His opponents have no weight unless he decides otherwise. And while he asks them to shed their weapons, he makes no such requests within his own movement, because he knows he may need those weapons some day.

Moqtada does not trust the people who distrust him, too. On more than one occasion, he abandoned his movement and disappeared under false pretexts, whether to complete his studies in Qom, seclude himself in Najaf or claim he despaired of being understood by others. He considers his immature behaviour to be part of his political philosophy. This does not alter the project promoted by his people, which is intertwined with the projects of other political parties in terms of benefiting from corruption to amass wealth, loot public funds and prevent the emergence of a real state based on the rule of law.

Moqtada is now playing with the constitution as he tells others to ignore the constitutionally-ordained deadlines for forming the government and reviving institutions. He imposes his rules on everyone and claims to give opponents a reprieve, in violation of the constitution. And no one objects. He is the actual ruler as he imposes his cross-sectarian alliance on others as the largest parliamentary bloc.

He does not care about the government’s failure to function. Everything is postponed until he achieves his final victory, which may happen under Iranian auspices and be sealed with US consent. This is what the rival pro-Iranian parties fear.

The four years of the next government have not yet begun. They may not start unless Moqtada’s demands are met. This means that the Iraqis will then be living in a new era of corruption, waiting for the next elections when Moqtada will be removed from the political scene as well.