MESOP : SADR’S DE-FACTO-COUP IN IRAQ
By Patrick Martin, Emily Anagnostos, and Rachel Bessette (ISW) – Key Take-Away: Sadrist Trend leader Muqtada al-Sadr is attempting to launch a de-facto coup against Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. The Sadrist Trend’s protests in the Green Zone constitute an attempt to seize control of the government process and limit the ability of the government to physically access the Green Zone. Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr have stormed the Green Zone and the parliament building and they are refusing to leave. Some members are setting up tents, indicating that Sadrists will attempt a sit-in in the Green Zone itself. The Sadrists have not mobilized formal military forces. They have, however, prevented Iraqi leaders from accessing government buildings and forced members of the Council of Representatives (CoR) to leave the Green Zone, attacking several of them as they left. Sadrist demonstrators in the predominantly Shi’a southern provinces have also stormed offices of the rival Dawa Party, to which PM Abadi and former PM Nouri al-Maliki belong.
There is potential for intra-Shi’a violence; security forces and Iranian proxy militias, rivals to the Sadrist Trend, deployed to Baghdad’s southern belts to secure the area during the commemoration of the death of the Imam al-Kadhim, a major Shi’a holiday. Meanwhile, security forces could clash with demonstrators or attempt to forcibly evict them from public spaces. This could also lead to further instability, while the possibility of an attempted ISIS attack against either pilgrims or demonstrators remains high. ISW has tracked developments leading up to this state of affairs. Additional source materials can be accessed here.