Written by Domenico Farinelli
On 7 September 2022, the Iraqi supreme court ruled that the national parliament could not be dissolved if not by itself. In doing so, it rejected a key demand made by Moqtada al-Sadr, a 48-years-old Shiite cleric followed by millions all around the country, who had vehemently asked for early elections. Currently, he leads the largest political group inside the Iraqi parliament, controlling as many as 73 of the chamber’s 329 seats. The top court’s decision followed a period of turmoil and social unrest that had started in late August, when al-Sadr publicly announced that he was seriously considering withdrawing from politics. Since then, its supporters have engaged in numerous armed clashes with both security forces and rival militias, throwing the entire country into disarray. How can it be that Iraq’s main political force advocates for a return to the polls, instead of taking part in the nation’s government? The reason should be sought in the fierce rivalry that opposes different Iraqi Shiite parties and which is becoming increasingly violent.