Ismail Qaani, commander of the Quds Force, the expeditionary arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, rushed back to Baghdad on Tuesday, for a second visit in less than two weeks.

With their political margin for manoeuvre narrowing, pro-Iran factions in Iraq are hoping Qaani’s last ditch effort will help limit the political damage they stand to suffer from the October election and the supreme court’s decision Tuesday to validate the parliamentary speaker’s election.

Analysts say that these pro-Iran groups currently have no choice but to accept Moqtadar al-Sadr’s conditions to participate in the “national majority” government or join the opposition. They are waiting for the outcome of Qaani’s efforts.

Iraqi political sources say that Qaani is trying to persuade Sadr to lower the ceiling of his demands, mainly in connection with the disbandment of all armed militias and the handing over of their weapons to the state.

Qaani is also said to be pushing for the inclusion of Coordination Framework members in the new government, even if not of the Rule Of Law party chief, Nuri al-Maliki.

In the meanwhile, violent escalation seems to reflect the growing desperation among the pro-Iran ranks.

Hours after Iraq’s top court confirmed Mohammed al-Halbousi’s re-election as speaker of parliament, two children were wounded Tuesday night when rockets were fired towards the home of Iraq’s speaker of parliament, security sources said.

Three Katyusha rockets landed some “500 metres” from the home of Halbousi in the Gurma district of Anbar province, west of the capital Baghdad, a security source said.

Halbousi was the target of the attack, but it was not clear if he was at home at the time.

The two wounded children were “taken to hospital in Gurma”, Iraqi police said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Halbousi, 41, is a Sunni politician and has headed parliament since 2018.

Several grenade attacks have in recent days targeted political figures from parties that could team up with Shia leader Moqtada Sadr to form a parliamentary coalition in the wake of Iraq’s October legislative elections.

Sadr, whose bloc took the largest share of seats, is seeking to build a coalition bringing together Taqadom, Halbussi’s party, with a second Sunni party and a Kurdish grouping.

Iraq’s top court on Tuesday confirmed the re-election of Mohammed al-Halbousi as parliament speaker, following appeals against the chamber’s conduct, thus paving the way for the formation of a new government.

The ruling will allow the resumption of parliamentary sessions and along with them, deliberations over the selection of a new president, who will, in turn, choose the next prime minister, to be approved by the legislature.

Lawmakers have until February 8 to elect a president, a post historically allocated to a Kurd.

Iraq’s post-election period since the October 10 vote has been marred by high tensions, violence and allegations of vote fraud, after pro-Iran political parties, such as the Al-Fatah (Conquest) party, lost the October election to the Sadrist Movement.

In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, the formation of governments has, ever since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled President Saddam Hussein, involved complex negotiations Moqtadar al-Sadr, the head of the largest party that bears his name, has vowed to form “a majority government” instead of the traditional consensus-based cabinet.

Parliament met after the polls and elected the speaker. This opened up furious arguments between rival factions of Shia lawmakers as members of the pro-Iran Framework Alliance claimed to have enough seats to be the leading bloc in parliament. The Sadrists rejected their implausible claim.

The Sadrist Movement garnered about a fifth of the seats, 73 out of the legislature’s total 329, while the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iranian Hashed al-Shaabi, won only 17 seats, sharply down from the 48 seats the used to control in the outgoing assembly.

Appeals against the speaker’s re-election were filed by Mashhadani and another MP, Bassem Khachan.

Source » thearabweekly