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Seeking to Bypass U.S. Sanctions, Iran Tightens Its Grip on Iraqi Politics

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Seeking to Bypass U.S. Sanctions, Iran Tightens Its Grip on Iraqi Politics

Post  GirlBye on Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:46 am



Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry his image as they celebrate in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, May 14, 2018.

Meanwhile, Washington's only interest is for the next Iraqi government to follow its sanctions policies – whatever the political price


The important news on the formation of a political bloc to lead Iraq for the next four years was supposed to come out from the Babylon Hotel in Baghdad’s bustling center this week. Twice over the past decade, the hotel fell victim to car-bomb attacks, but this didn’t stop the place from becoming one of the country’s most attractive and expensive tourist destinations.


A night goes for $220, including breakfast and access to both swimming pools. The hotel is near Baghdad’s main shopping areas, and no less important, it’s near one of Iraq’s most famous ice-cream stands. 


Representatives of the parties that won the May 12 parliamentary elections preferred to meet at a hotel with an appropriate “atmosphere” instead of hiding in the protected Green Zone where most of the ministries are located in former palaces left by Saddam Hussein.

The pleasant atmosphere and good food may be an effective condition for political negotiations, but they’re not enough – as the representatives of the political blocs learned. Three months after the elections, and similar to Lebanon, the process of forming a government is taking its time threading the political minefield in this country of tribes and minorities.


After an exhausting series of discussions, it seemed this time the four main blocs would build a coalition based on about 200 of the 329 legislators, a coalition that could then agree on a cabinet and principles. But the meeting blew up, the decisions were postponed and the next session is expected to be held only in mid-September – if everything goes well.


Forming a government in Iraq is a work of careful and complex deliberation; politicians must take into account the Shi’ite majority and minorities including the Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmens and Christians. But the ethnic and religious blocs aren’t all made up of the same material and internally aren’t necessarily harmonious either. 


The Shi’ites are divided into four rival sub-blocs, each headed by a powerful politician. Each also has its own militia in the guise of security forces, whose budgets come from the government.


The disagreements between the Shi’ite parties fall along two parallel axes. Some, such as the Victory Alliance headed by former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, oppose Iranian influence and have even declared that an Iraq they headed would implement the new U.S. sanctions against Iran.


Read more:https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iraq/.premium-seeking-to-bypass-u-s-sanctions-iran-tightens-its-grip-on-iraq-1.6411637
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