Friday, February 14, 2020

Iraq Situation Reports: January 23 - February 6, 2020

By: Brandon Wallace

ISW is assessing the ongoing unrest and its effects on political-security dynamics in Iraq. The Iraq Situation Report (SITREP) map series summarizes key events and likely developments to come. The following set of SITREP maps covers the period January 23 - February 6, 2020.

Iraq Situation Report: January 23 - 27, 2020

Key Takeaway: Nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr caused a new fracture in his movement by withdrawing support for popular protests, leading some Sadrists to participate in a new violent crackdown against protesters. Others defied Sadr’s guidance and continued to participate in demonstrations. Sadr’s reversal is a major boon for the effort by Iran’s proxies to crush the protest movement violently but may have the unintended effect of further inflaming protests by alienating Sadrists who perceive his action as a betrayal.

Iraq Situation Report: January 28 - 30, 2020

Key Takeaway: President Barham Salih channeled public pressure to set a three-day ultimatum for the Iraqi Parliament to agree to a new prime minister (PM). According to some reports, former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki vetoed a decision by Nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iranian proxy leader Hadi al-Ameri to support former communications minister Muhammad Taqfiq Allawi. President Salih’s deadline expires on February 1.

Iraq Situation Report: January 31 - February 3, 2020

Key Takeaway: Iraq’s major political parties agreed on a new prime minister. President Barham Salih has officially asked former communications minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi to form a government, which requires Allawi to submit a new Council of Ministers for an absolute majority vote in the Iraqi Parliament.  Some protesters in Baghdad demonstrated against Allawi. In response, nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr turned on the protest movement again calling for his supporters to assist security forces and punish demonstrators, despite having used its pressure to help reach a PM designation. This time, Sadr ordered his supporters to participate in forcibly suppressing protests against the new PM.

Iraq Situation Report: February 4 - 6, 2020

Key Takeaway: Nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is in a violent escalation cycle with Iraq’s popular protest movement. Protesters have begun to fight back in response to renewed efforts by Sadr’s supporters, upon his instruction, to crush the protest movement. The conflict increasingly pits Sadr’s traditional support base against the younger demonstrators who make up the bulk of the demonstration movement. Further mobilization could create the conditions for large scale violence.