Sadr steps down again, extreme chaos in Baghdad

News Aug 29, 2022 2 min read

Both within and outside Iraq everyone is holding their breath while looking at the events unfolding in Baghdad. Muqtada Al Sadr has announced that he will permanently withdraw from politics. Many observers were however quick to point out that he has made similar statements multiple times already in the past years. The current move should also be read in the context of Sayed Kazem al-Haeri, the Ayatollah followed by the Sadri movement, denouncing the Sadri movement. Al Hairi has resigned from his position and ordered his followers to follow Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei.

Sadr supporters storm Green Zone, Hadi Mizban / AP.

It is reported that Muqtada Al Sadr as of now has left Iraq. His supporters led by his militia Saraya al Salam are currently converging on the Green Zone thus reinforcing the Sadri supporters that have been camping there for over a month now. Multiple state buildings such as the presidential palace have been stormed and occupied. The Kadhimi government appears to step down with many even suggesting that they are facilitating what amounts to an attempted coup. Key bridges to the Green Zone were opened and a curfew was ordered only after the Sadri reinforcements entered the Green Zone.

It is clear that the movements of the Sadri crowds and militia are not spontaneous but rather meticulously coordinated both internally as well as with the outgoing Kadhimi-led government.

So far the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al Sha’bi) have remained neutral but they did make a statement a few days earlier that they would protect state institutions. Some videos suggest that special forces loyal to Al-Kadhimi have even blocked Hashd security forces from entering the Green Zone.

Many scenarios are possible at the moment and it is hard to gauge what will happen next.

Many fear that the Sadri followers will move towards the Suspension bridge, the place where the CF supporters are currently camping. Such a move could cause a clash.

A minor clash could take place. The spilling of blood could provide Al-Sadr with the pretext to come back to the political scene to appear as the savior.

It is unlikely that a coup would actually succeed with the presence of the Hashd.

Chaos could erupt however if the Americans will push for a Tishreen style uprising that would back Sadr's moves.

All of the chaos might also be an attempt at shuffling the cards by the Sadri movement because their previous escalations didn't manage to bring them out of their political isolation. The Coordination framework refrained from heavy reactions as they believe that Sadr's actions will expose him.

As previously mentioned these are a few of the possible scenarios. The factor that might somewhat be reassuring is that the Americans at this moment can't afford a major escalation as that could disrupt the oil flow.

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