Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (right) and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Sayirun leader Muqtada al-Sadr and incumbent Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi met on Sunday to affirm their parliamentary bloc remains united amid rumors that Sadr has started talks with the opposing bloc.
The meeting follows a toxic parliamentary session on Saturday where an increasingly isolated Abadi was urged to resign by Sayirun’s spokesman and officials from the pro-Iran Fatih (Conquest) alliance of Hadi al-Amiri.
“The Islah and I’mmar (Building and Reform) coalition discussed in its meeting held in the Sayirun headquarters on Sunday the conditions in the country, especially the situation in Basra, the proposed solutions, besides the next parliamentary session,” Qahtan al-Jabouri, spokesperson for the Sayirun alliance, said in a statement.
“The attendees also discussed the importance of preserving the strength and cohesion of the alliance,” he added.
The statement follows rumors that Sadr, the leader of the bloc, has opened negotiations with the Fatih alliance – the pro-Iran Shiite group composed of Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias.
Both blocs called on Abadi to resign during Saturday’s emergency session, accusing the PM of failing Basra. Speculation was rife on Sunday that the two rival blocs could strike a deal – potentially sidelining Abadi.
“The latest statement of Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr was at an appropriate time to resolve the current situation, and it is compatible with the initiative of Fatih in that the conditions of the Marja be invoked in picking the prime minister and the ministerial cabinet,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, tweeted on Saturday.
An agreement between Sayirun and Fatih “means the stability of Iraq and the next government succeeding in fulfilling the demands of the people,” Khazali added.
One Fatih MP, Falih al-Khazali, told Baghdad Today that talks between Sayirun and Fatih have reached an advanced stage.
“There is great proximity between Sayirun and Fatih with regards to not renewing the term of the incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and to the belief in the failure of the current government in serving Iraq and its people,” he told the paper.
Violent protests have resumed in the oil-rich southern province of Basra against government mismanagement, unemployment, and a lack of basic services. Fifteen people have been killed and scores injured according to health ministry figures.
Months after Iraq’s May 12 election, the country is still without a new government.