Muqtada al-Sadr has been a long-time enemy of the U.S., particularly during the occupation of Iraq during Operation Iraqi freedom (OIF) when Sadr led the Mahdi Army. Now Sadr has been elected to Iraqi parliament, his Sayriun Alliance partnered with the Communist Party to pull a sweeping victory out of the elections. Together, the Sayriun Alliance appealed to the poorer and low-income citizens of the country netting a whopping 54 of the 328 seats in Iraqi parliament, the most of any parliamentary coalition, and now Sadr is calling upon the government to expediently handle the nation’s dire water crisis.
Sadr’s office issued an official statement on Sunday cautioning the citizens of Iraq that his alliance would not allow mismanagement of utilities. The statement read,
If our [electoral] victory is the beginning for revenge from the Iraqi people, I will not allow that [to happen]. I am sure that denying water and electricity to the people will not cause them to kneel. We give the government a few days to look into the issue of water and electricity, or allow us to work to regain our rights.”
An Iraqi parliament session pertaining to the water crisis and the discussion of possible solutions is expected to convene later this week.
Iraq has suffered from rolling blackouts and sporadic power outages for years now, the drop-in water reserves is becoming the new concern on everyone’s minds. The infrastructure issues and lack of supply have caused several protests throughout the country. In-part the water crisis can be attributed to the recent dams constructed by Iran and Turkey, these “blockades” have severely stemmed the flow of water into the Iraq and Kurdistan regions. There is growing concern that the water crisis could result in a mass displacement of Iraqi citizens purely due to the shortages. Without a doubt the management of the remaining water reservoirs in the country will be a top priority for the government if they wish to stay ahead of the situation. The Kurdistan Regional Government claims the autonomous region has plentiful supplies of freshwater in the form of rivers, lakes and groundwater. However, they have admitted that the resources are not adequately contained, conserved or secured from pollution.
Sadr is still in the process of organizing and attending meetings with various Iraqi and Kurdish leaders to establish the newly elected government of Iraq. Sadr is not keen to have foreign governments or entities involved in the nation’s affairs though — Sadr recently stated,
America is an occupying country. We absolutely won’t allow it to intervene. Iran is a neighboring country concerned for its interests. We hope it doesn’t intervene in Iraqi affairs and we reject anyone interfering in its affairs.”
Featured image: Muqtada al-Sadr [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons