Rife divisions pitting Shiite parties against each other in Iraq are set to escalate as the Levantine country moves closer to holding elections next June. Despite having existed for long, intra-Shiite disputes have exacerbated to touch on all aspects of state management.
Shiite parties are in great disagreement over the issue of foreign presence in the country and the attacks launched by pro-Iranian groups against US interests and international coalition forces.
Rivalry between Moqtada al-Sadr and his Sadrist Movement, on the one hand, and pro-Iran factions, on the other hand, over the issue of foreign presence in Iraq continues to threaten stability among Shiite parties.
Two days ago, differences between the two sides erupted on the sidelines of the anniversary marking the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, and the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
A US strike near Baghdad International Airport killed Soleimani and al-Muhandis on January 3, 2020.
Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman of the Sadrist Movement leader, blasted armed factions and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for “weakening the Iraqi army and contributing to the rise of ISIS in 2014.”
“Armed factions welcomed the participation of US forces in the war against ISIS, and US forces came to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government to fight ISIS,” al-Obeidi said in a televised interview.
“Former Prime Minister al-Maliki implemented the US agenda by weakening the security forces, and the factions refused to fight ISIS under the banner of the Iraqi state,” he added.
Al-Sadr, who is a powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq, urged saving the country from unwanted conflict. His call was made on the occasion of the first anniversary of the killing of Soleimani and al-Muhandis
He stressed the need to preserve “the unity, sovereignty, independence of Iraq” away from foreign interference.