Iraq… A leak leaking the “framework”.
A “leak” refers to material escaping from a container through a crack or puncture, by definition a gradual process or the disclosure of classified information by someone. However, in Iraqi politics, leaks can be explained in several and different ways. It starts with identifying the leak and the environment in which the leak was made. It might even end with an armed sentence deleting the letters that could join to form the sentence giving the political process one last chance.
In the leaked audio file of the parliamentary head of the Rule of Law Coalition, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in which he leads personal attacks on Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr while discussing, uses inflammatory sectarian rhetoric of other national groups and threatens to wipe out the coordination framework’s remaining ability to find a solution to the ongoing political stalemate, leaving the future uncertain.
In Iraq, uncertain outcomes are almost a foregone conclusion; they signify the continuation of the obstruction that perpetuates chaos and paves the way for power struggles and then civil wars. If the shrewd factions within the framework fail to shoulder their responsibilities and take the initiative to address the ongoing crisis, it could topple what is left of the 2003 regime.
Some of the forces of the coordination framework are sensible and prudent. From the outset, you have spoken out against downplaying al-Sadr’s exit from parliament. They had no thought of starting a conflict to settle the score, they were careful with the fireball he hurled at them, consistently excelled in their approach to him, and insisted on involving Sadr’s forces. These positions mean they now have two crises to resolve; first, the public matter of the leak, and second, the private matter of the future of the framework.
In terms of the public, the leak poses a difficult challenge to the framework as a whole. How will Sadr and his supporters react to Maliki’s comments in the future? Therefore, the wise factions within the Framework must seize the opportunity Sadr gave them in his last Friday prayer tweet (today the 15th), which he previously called for. In the tweet, he says “Friday prayer is pure worship” and tries to contain the crisis, especially after downplaying Maliki’s words: “We don’t give him weight.”
Regardless of Sadr’s tweet, participation in the prayers and rituals and the preceding speech will shape the next phase. That is, it will determine the contours of the political and popular confrontation between the Sadrist movement and the coordination framework. In particular, the wise factions in the framework have a responsibility to contain the rigid forces that will push them towards a political confrontation with Sadr and the other national groups (Kurds and Sunnis) that Maliki had also mentioned, which could cause turbulent repercussions, which neither the coordination framework nor the Shia political class can afford.
Since the framework became majority, their intense deliberations have resulted in continuous changes to the prime minister’s criteria and his name. This continued self-handicapping within the framework became more complicated after some prominent internal parties openly expressed their leaders’ reluctance to run for prime minister and the decision of other parties not even to participate in government, i.e. to voluntarily relinquish their ministerial share, demonstrate the inability of the framework to resolve the issue of its candidates.
This is seen as a major political setback in a tug-of-war with rivals. The competition for the high posts resulted in the names of the first two classes being eliminated from the competition for the post of PM.
And so, the extent of the conflicts within the framework could lead to a third-degree clerk taking the role of First Minister rather than Prime Minister, ie converting that position to Director of the Office of the Prime Minister. It would thus be the greatest political crime against the Shias, and it would be committed by the Shias themselves, as they undermine the most important position in government, which no longer suits either internal or external forces.
Despite its weakness and divisions at home and conflicting interests abroad, regional and international circumstances require all sides to elect a prime minister capable of maintaining internal and external balances at this time, which is not the case for most of the framework’s candidates is.
In summary, the leak has wiped out the Frameworks’ remaining chances of forming a government. Sadr will decide the political and popular costs of Maliki’s words in the coming days. Regardless of Sadr’s reaction, however, the Framework has lost its last chance, and near-term developments will undermine the relations among its factions, which will no doubt thwart any plans to seize power.