After sparking a sit-in that prevented the Iraqi Parliament from meeting and protests calling for new elections, Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his “resignation” from politics August 29 prompting armed clashes and fears that violence could spiral higher. Iraq’s military announced a countrywide curfew, and the caretaker prime minister suspended Cabinet sessions in response to the violence. On August 30, with dozens of people killed and hundreds injured in clashes, Sadr called for his followers to leave the Green Zone.
What was behind Sadr’s call for dissolving Parliament and holding new elections as well as his latest resignation from Iraqi politics? Where do efforts to form a new government stand 10 months after the October 2021 parliamentary elections, and is Iraq bound for a new round of parliamentary elections? What has been the political impact of Sadr’s moves over the past year? If Sadr’s conflicts with Iranian-backed parties and militias cannot be resolved through political negotiations and at the ballot box, does Iraq risk descending into a new civil war? What is Iran’s role in these bouts of political wrangling and violent clashes? And what can the United States do to de-escalate and offer deterrence against violence?