[size=32]Shiite-Shiite differences are the title of the next war in Iraq
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Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is living in a situation similar to that of his predecessor Haider al-Abadi on the level of the impact of Shiite differences on the government and the Popular Mobilization Authority and militias affiliated to Iran, as well as the effects of relations between Iran and the United States and the rest of the region. Experts believe that this crisis will continue even after the government changes the harbinger of a new conflict that may be witnessing in Iraq, this time between the Shiite factions among themselves, and may turn into a civil war between the militias loyal to the Iraqi state and the Iraqi militias loyal to Iran, which today seems indispensable to such a clash .
BAGHDAD - When ISIS emerged in Iraq in 2014, it filled a political and ideological vacuum. The organization took advantage of the feelings of marginalized Sunnis, as well as resentment for corruption and the inability of the Baghdad government. These sentiments remain, but it is unlikely that Sunni Iraqis will rally for the foreseeable future after they have been exhausted by the wars against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the internal conflict with Shiite militias and pro-Iranian governments.
Instead, Iraq is likely to see a new civil stone, this time the Shiite-Shiite factions that have escalated their old differences on the surface after the reason they had ended with the departure of ISIS.
Iraq is in a precarious political situation, and is witnessing an unprecedented wave of differences between the leaders of the Popular Mobilization Forces and between politicians who are generally loyal to Iran, threatening the stability of the country and the future of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has been in his government for only 11 months, whose influence derives from the coexistence of two lists. It is supported by prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Fatah Alliance, the political representative of the Popular Mobilization Forces, within and within parliament.
However, the cracks that have emerged for years and affected the government of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have grown and may turn into an earthquake whose repercussions will be a new war in Iraq instead of turning the page of terrorism and chaos. The most dangerous is the weapons of the militias, which the government is unable to control and which owe allegiance to Iran rather than the Iraqi state.
Iraq witnesses unprecedented differences between the leaders of the Popular Mobilization Forces and other between pro-Iranian politicians, which threatens the stability of the country and the future of the Prime Minister
This dispute within the Iraqi Shiite alliance is the most serious since 2003. This is due to several differences between the Shiite parties, the most important of which related to the crisis of the Popular Mobilization and other US-Iranian relations.
"The situation is confusing," said Ihsan al-Shammari, head of the Iraqi Center for Political Thought.
Al-Shammari expects a "tactical alliance" between Sadr and Fatah to collapse as Sadr has increasingly criticized the Popular Mobilization for the latter's possession of weapons and, according to some reports, his movement to form its own air force.
Sadr said last week in a tweet on Twitter that Iraq is shifting from a state of "law" to the state of "riot." A few days later, Sadr appeared in Tire during an unannounced visit to Iran, which plays a key role in Iraqi politics.
Al-Shammari says that it is possible that Sadr intended to Iran to complain about the popular mobilization or to get more support, including the opinion on the next prime minister in the event of a no-confidence vote from the current government.
"Sadr is still the biggest sponsor of the government, but if the government does not make progress in solving problems, Sadr will likely present the scenario of the demonstrations and see signs of that," he said, referring to demonstrations by supporters of Sadr in 2016 and 2017 demanding reform. Governments are in a difficult situation. In a sign of what could happen, Health Minister Alaa al-Alwan, backed by Sadr, resigned on Sunday under the pretext of administrative corruption.
The influence of Shiite parties increased after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime following the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003. It has dominated key government posts and security institutions in the country since 2003.
The Popular Mobilization Forces was formed by a fatwa launched by Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani in 2014 with the aim of fighting the Islamic State, which swept and controlled a third of the country at the time, before being defeated at the end of 2017.
Renad Mansour, a researcher at Britain's Chatham House, says of politicians that they have been split for years between loyalists of Iran and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei and supporters of the Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Before uniting in the wake of Sistani's fatwa, disagreements between Shiite militias after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime amounted to the fighting of the Badr Corps, the oldest militia in Iraq (formed in the 1980s in Iran). The Mahdi Army was liquidated at the Battle of Sawlat al-Fursan, in Basra, led by Nuri al-Maliki.
"There is more uncertainty and fragility now," said Renad Mansour. "The biggest factor is the challenge the Hashd face in becoming an Iraqi institution after ISIS is over."
"The front has dried up," said Mansour. "The factions are no longer able to generate resources and are now competing with each other for political positions."
The air strikes that Israel has accused over the summer have revealed yet another disagreement between Hashd's official commander, Faleh al-Fayyad, and his deputy, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who is very close to Iran and is believed to have real power over the Hashd.
The engineer accused Washington and Israel of being behind the strikes, but Fayyad said the accusation did not reflect the official position of the Popular Mobilization.
A few weeks later, a document signed by the engineer revealed authorization to allow the PMU to form its own air force, which was denied by the PMU office. Mansour says it is "the first time" that leaders have publicly disagreed.
Mahdi faces a number of challenges to push his government beyond its first birth. MPs are threatening to call ministers for lack of progress in services, jobs and corruption. Mansour believes that "dismissing the prime minister will lead to destabilization, it has never happened" before.
Randa Salim, a researcher at the Middle East Institute, believes that the increasing blows on the PMF will complicate Baghdad's efforts to balance its relations with Tehran and Washington. Therefore, Iran may be the reason for Abdul Mahdi to remain in office. She points out that "Iran wants to keep things as they are in Baghdad today, and wants to persuade Sadr to co-exist with Abdul Mahdi now."
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