At the beginning of the popular protests which have been sweeping Iraq for months, Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr took a hesitant and cautious stance from the protest movement, before publically declaring support to what he called the "revolutionaries," and calling for the resignation of outgoing Prime Adel Abdul-Mahdi. Although Al-Sadr was, in the beginning, wary of expressing an explicit anti-Iranian influence stance, the most obvious shift in his position came to light following the killing of Qasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January this year. After this incident, Al-Sadr’s rhetoric started to approach that of pro-Iran groups and made many references to whom he labeled as “infiltrators” and “saboteurs” among the demonstrators, and urged security forces to deal with those elements.
Following a period of intense negotiations between the various political blocs, on December 24, 2019 the Iraqi House of Representatives managed to adopt the new Elections Act. However, both the Kurdish bloc and several Sunni members of parliament boycotted the vote on the contentious parts of the 50-article bill.
Shortly before its resignation at the end of November 2019 amid wide protest movement, the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi signed a framework agreement for economic cooperation with China that envisages the financing of major infrastructure projects from Iraqi oil exported to China. The agreement stirred a political, economic and even popular debate triggered by the government's failure to present the deal to the parliament and keeping some of its clauses untold. This paper sheds light on the context of the agreement, reviews some of its known clauses, addresses political positions thereon, and discusses claims that the deal actually serves Iran.
In a repeat of Adel Abdul-Mahdi's elevation to Iraq's premiership, the leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, and the leader of the pro-Iran Al-Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, agreed to nominate former Minister of Communications Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi as a new prime minister. Once Allawi was officially designated by the President of the Republic, Barham Salih, on February 1, 2020, the demonstrations intensified in Baghdad and a number of southern provinces denouncing their ally's, Al-Sadr, departure from the protesters' conditions that the next prime minister must be independent, does not hold two nationalities and has not been a member of any previous government.
Following the defeat of ISIS in late 2017, Iraq has entered a new era. A number of key internal and external factors will determine Iraq’s future in this new epoch and will have a significant bearing on the security and stability of the entire region.
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