Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr is flexing his muscles. Days after his supporters stormed and occupied Iraq’s parliament, Mr Sadr has called for the dissolution of parliament and, effectively, for fresh elections. Iraq has been unable to form a new government following elections last October (MEES, 15 October 2021), and a fresh set of polls would nix any prospect of this being achieved before the end of the year.

Iraq can ill-afford the political vacuum that has already lasted the best part of 10 months. The increasingly activist Supreme Court has prohibited the caretaker administration from managing more than “day-to-day” matters, greatly limiting its ability to implement reforms, address issues such as poor electricity provision (MEES, 5 August), sign contracts for foreign investment or even tap into oil revenue windfalls. The semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has been rocked by the politicking, with factions in Baghdad pushing to implement a contentious Supreme Court ruling that Kurdistan’s independent oil sector is unconstitutional (MEES, 18 February). (CONTINUED - 1093 WORDS)