Surprise alliance between Sadr and pro-Iran list

The winner of Iraqi parliamentary elections Muqtada Sadr formed a surprise alliance with the Iran-backed Fetih Coalition to form the government.

Both lists had come up ahead in the elections on May 12. The alliance list Shia leader Sadr made with communists, the Reform March, had won the elections with 54 seats, and the Fetih Coalition by Hashd al-Shaabi militia came second. The Fetih Alliance is led by Hadi al Ameri.

In a press conference he held together with Hadi Al Amari in Najaf, Muqtada Sadr said: “The Reform March and the Fetih Alliance announce that they have formed a true alliance to accelerate the forming of a national government away from sectarianism.”

Hadi Al Amari said: “This is a call for anybody who has concerns for national interests. We will form commissions to discuss issues with everybody to accelerate the writing of a government program.”

The meeting was a surprise for the political class, as Muqtada Sadr had given messages that he didn’t want to form an alliance with Ameri. After the elections, Iranian ambassador General Kasik Suleymani had called on conservative Shia forces including the Fetih Coalition to avoid forming an alliance with Sadr.

A week ago, Sadr had signed a coalition agreement with Shia religious authority Ammar al Haqim’s Al Hiqma list and Iyad Allawi’s list that includes many Sunni names. With these two lists, the number of seats they had in parliament rose to 94, while the Fetih Alliance has 47 seats. A coalition that has at least half of the 329 seats in the parliament is needed to form the next government.

Sadr finally forming an alliance with the Fetih list also pushes away the possibility that current Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, who came in third in the elections, continue to govern the country.