Iraqi parliament convenes to elect speaker as anti-government protests surge

Iraqi parliament convenes to elect speaker as anti-government protests surge

Iraq’s deeply divided parliament will reconvene today in the aftermath of violent protests in Basra, which killed 15 people and

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Photo: Reuters

Iraq’s deeply divided parliament will reconvene today in the aftermath of violent protests in Basra, which killed 15 people and destroyed several government buildings.

The outrage is primarily focused on high levels of corruption and Iraq’s political deadlock, which the public blames for a lack of basic services. While the war-torn country’s parliament met last week, the body failed to establish a concrete majority, or even elect a speaker. Finding a speaker will likely be today’s focus.

Expect the recent protests to undermine US-backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s chances of forming a ruling coalition, as many blame him for the unrest. Instead, an alliance between the popular Saeroon bloc and the pro-Irani Fatih coalition is looking increasingly likely.

However, a pro-Iranian government will not quell stability in Iraq. Many voters are wary of Tehran’s influence—the Iran consulate was set alight in the recent protests. With pressure mounting to form a ruling coalition, expect further violence with the potential to escalate into chaos if the government is left headless for much longer.

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