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.
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.
Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) has now to grapple with enormous challenges following the killing of its commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in a US drone strike in early January this year. Al-Muhandis was the mastermind and chief architect of all of Iran's loyal factions, which have been buckling under mounting U.S. pressure. The US designated the PMF a terrorist organization and slapped major financial sanctions targeting a significant number of its leaders. This is in addition to U.S. and Israeli drone strikes against the group's camps and missile depots.
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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