Iraq's parliament helpless to halt political crisis

Iraq's political crisis has worsened, and the parliament cannot even meet to discuss proposals for resolving it.

al-monitor Followers of Iraq's Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are seen at the parliament building as they storm Baghdad's Green Zone, April 30, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Saad.

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iraqi politics, iraqi parliament, iraqi government, iraqi crisis, haider al-abadi, baghdad government, baghdad

May 19, 2016

NAJAF, Iraq — Iraq finds itself facing a major political crisis, as parliament is obstructed, the formation of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's new cabinet has yet to be completed and popular protests continue to demand radical reform to the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

The current crisis has impeded the building of even basic understandings. Protesters stormed the parliament building on April 30 and parliament has not yet convened due to a boycott by many parliamentary blocs. Abadi's new ministers cannot attended cabinet meetings, having not been sworn into office yet.

Most parliamentary blocs are not convinced that they need to return to parliament, despite ongoing intense efforts by Speaker Salim al-Jabouri and Abadi to see the legislative body continue to operate and the new cabinet to take office. In a statement issued on May 8, Jabouri called on lawmakers to attend sessions and start their work, but did not specify a date for the holding of the next parliament session. The postponement of the latest scheduled session was attributed to a delay in "technical preparations" for the parliament building, yet the real reason is likely more complicated.

Some observers believe that the current situation is even more complex than the government's initial formation following Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003. Several reasons come to fore, including the lack of a clear government vision of a way out of the crisis; the absence of a third party to take control of the situation and facilitate dialogue among the political parties, as US troops once did; and the major rift among political forces reflected by the public mood, which will not facilitate the building of a political understanding.

The major parliamentary blocs have made three proposals to end the crisis:

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