The real start of Sadrist Movement protests was not in April 2016 when the followers of the Shiite cleric entered the Green Zone in their push for reform. The story began in late 2012 when Moqtada Al-Sadr declared his support for Sunni Arabs who staged demonstrations to voice rejection to sectarian policies of the then Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
The widespread protests in the Sunni protests came following a raid on the home of the Sunni finance minister Rafi Al-Issawi.
Also, Moqtada Al-Sadr vowed in 2014 to start a sit-in near the parliament within the boundaries of the Green Zone. But he broke up the sit-in shortly after that.
On April 2016, protesters loyal to Sadr entered the Green Zone in bulk numbers and occupied the headquarters of the Iraqi parliament.
These demonstrations demanded reform and called for fighting corruption.
— السيد مقتدى الصدر (@Mu_AlSadr) February 6, 2017
But, the question is… who is who in this dilemma going on in Baghdad? What is going on?
Who is protesting?
The leaders of the mass protests on streets against corruption and the divisive electoral commission are the followers of the Sadr Movement led by the Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr.
The Sadr Movement is also aligned with Al-Ahrar Bloc in these protests.
Sadr is openly vocal against the American influence in the Middle East and, at the same time, he has a troubled relationship with Iraqi political groups allied with Iran.
Against whom they are raising their voice?
The Sadr followers declared that they are hitting streets to protest against controversial electoral law and commission, corruption and crumbling economy since the former premiere Nuri Al-Maliki was in office.
The former prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki, a Shiite politician just like Sadr, but he is a closer ally to Iran in Iraq, has been viewed by many as the main hindrance to a political settlement and reform in Baghdad.
His eight-year tenure in office ended in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of an ISIS offensive, forcing him to hand over the power to the incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Abadi and Maliki are members of the Shi'ite Dawa party.
Despite the fact that both trends are Shiites, Dawa Party and the Sadrist Movement are at loggerheads.
Maliki's Dawa party accuses Sadr of hindering the war against ISIS, saying his street protests increase the burden on the armed forces at the time when they are about to dislodge the militants from Mosul, their last city they are holding in Iraq.
Parliament as a chip in the game
The Iraqi parliament is elected through the open list system. And there are quotas for each faction within the Iraqi people.
Thus, In 2014, Iraq's election led to a fractured parliament and inability to quickly install a government and replace Maliki. It is a hindrance to the political process in Iraq.
It is divided between the Sunnis and Shiites. And the Sunnis are divided into Arabs and Kurds, while most of the Shiites are rifted over loyalty to Iran.
And that led the patriotic and independent of Mullah's regime, Moqtada Al-Sadr bring the Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites around him against corrupted and pro-Iran officials who are putting Iraq at stake.