No one who’s been following the news in Iraq since last year’s inconclusive parliamentary elections should be surprised to see violence currently erupting in Baghdad.
For months, various political factions have jostled unsuccessfully for a governing majority. Muqtada al Sadr, the volatile cleric who fueled much of the bloodshed in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, controls the most seats but not enough to form a governing coalition. This past weekend, he decided to turn up the heat.
On Saturday, al Sadr set a 72-hour time limit to resolve the crisis and insisted that all political actors leave the public stage to give way to a new generation. If this failed, he suggested violence would be the last recourse — including the forcible closure of Iraq’s oil fields. On Monday, he made good on the threat as the Green Zone erupted in fighting, and some of Sadr’s followers occupied oil facilities. While Sadr claims he is trying to restore order, he has clearly demonstrated the capability to create violent chaos in Baghdad, and what comes next is anyone’s guess.
While Americans have excellent reason to be wary of the endless political dysfunction and endemic corruption in Iraq, this threat brings into sharp relief the twin realities that demand attention: the potential for a dramatically heightened global energy crisis and the violent malign influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Some three and a quarter million barrels of oil a day flow out of Iraq. Major political disruptions will carry over and cause significant supply disruptions just as the world continues to struggle with international restrictions on Russian oil. (Read more from “Joe Biden, Don’t Repeat Your Afghanistan Blunders in Iraq” HERE)
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