Since the October 2021 legislative elections, the 42 million Iraqis, exhausted by a major economic and social crisis, are still waiting to find out who their next prime minister will be.
The majority Shiite parties have failed to provide the oil-producing country with a new head of government. And the crisis deepened on June 12 with the resignation of 73 parliamentarians from Moqtada Sadr’s current, a gesture intended to protest against this inertia.
With his title of “sayyed” — a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad — Moqtada Sadr has had considerable weight in the Iraqi political landscape since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, overthrown by a coalition led by the United States in 2003 and hanged in 2006.
The great Friday collective prayer that he called in Baghdad came into full play, as a way of saying that he could easily mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, even by more than 40°.
“Thanks be to God for this great victory (…) Thanks to the faithful on Friday”, tweeted Moqtada Sadr.
Absent from this rally in the Sadr City district, the Shiite leader left it to a relative, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Jayachi, to deliver the Friday prayer sermon, in the form of an apostrophe to his opponents of the Coordination Framework .
Because it is to this alliance of Shiite parties, some of which are close to Iran, that Mr. Sadr now leaves the responsibility of forming a government. Chaining the meetings, the caciques of the Coordination Framework have not yet managed to agree.
– “Reforms” –
“We are at a difficult crossroads in the formation of government, entrusted to people we do not trust,” Sheikh al-Jayachi told the crowd of worshipers gathered on al-Fallah Avenue, in this written sermon by Moqtada Sadr.
Some “that we have already seen in the exercise have not been up to it”, he added.
And as a warning to his adversaries, the Shiite leader notably attacked Hachd al-Chaabi, ex-paramilitaries now integrated into the regular forces whom many Iraqis accuse of being the fake Iran’s nose at home and to commit abuses.
“It must be reorganized and rid of unruly elements,” he said, scratching the “foreign interventions”, without however pointing the finger at a particular country.
The sermon also called for ‘steering the Hashd out of politics and business’ as the powerful coalition has a political showcase and deputies in parliament in the Coordinating Framework, and some of its leaders are accused of busyness.
“Yes! Yes to the reforms! Yes! Yes to the reformer!”, chanted the faithful, in reference to Moqtada Sadr.
– “Influence on the street” –
The district of Sadr City in Baghdad was baptized with the surname of Mohammed Sadr, father of Moqtada whom Saddam Hussein had assassinated in 1999. It is moreover in homage to Sadr father that the prayer was organized.
Prayer mat in hand, the participants brandished in particular flags of Iraq.
“We obey Moqtada Sadr, as we obey God and his prophet,” Sheikh Kadhim Hafez Mohammed al-Tai told AFP.
Sajjad, a 28-year-old daily worker and resident of the neighborhood, also says he is there “out of love” for Moqtada Sadr.
“We want to prove to the world that he has a base and people who obey him,” he said, sitting on his mat.
The objective of the event? “Sadr shows that even if he made his deputies resign, this does not mean that he is no longer politically relevant”, underlines Hamzeh Hadad, visiting researcher at the European Council for International Relations (ECFR), a think- tank.
“He flexed his muscles and showed the influence he still has on the street,” adds the analyst, adding that on the merits, Friday’s speech brought “nothing new”.