The Iraqi political scene is marked by uncertainty about the post-Al-Halbousi phase. The option of turning the page on the ousted Speaker of Parliament or escalating by his allies and supporters on the street, especially in Anbar, which is currently witnessing chaos, both options are possible. The map of political alliances will be the decisive factor.
Reactions from Iraqi political forces regarding the Federal Supreme Court’s decision to end the membership of Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi vary. Some parties have maintained silence, adding to the ambiguity surrounding Al-Halbousi’s political future, who leads the Forward Party. The situation is now focused on the “Sovereignty” alliance, which includes, along with “Forward,” the “Arab Project” led by Khamis Al-Khanjar. They aim to provide another candidate for the position of Parliament Speaker, as a “right,” according to the sectarian quota system in Iraq. The Determination Alliance confirmed that the new Speaker of Parliament would be from outside the Forward Party led by Mohammed Al-Halbousi.
Fares Al-Fares, a leader in the alliance, stated that “discussions about choosing the new Speaker of Parliament are ongoing in a positive atmosphere, and there is an agreement that the Speaker should be from outside the Forward Party led by Mohammed Al-Halbousi.” He added that Shia and Kurdish political forces would support any candidate nominated by the Sunni parliamentary majority, especially since choosing a candidate for this position is a matter for the Sunni political bloc. The names of nominated candidates have not been reached yet, but discussions are ongoing.
The Federal Supreme Court, Iraq’s highest judicial authority, decided on Tuesday to end Al-Halbousi‘s membership based on a lawsuit filed by MP Laith Al-Dulaimi, accusing him of “forgery” in the date of a previously submitted resignation request with the aim of expelling him from Parliament. Following the court’s decision, Al-Halbousi stated during a parliamentary session that “some seek to fragment the political components of society.” Meanwhile, Samia Ghaleb, a member of the “Forward” party, expressed her belief that the controversial federal decision is part of a series of “blows” her party has received due to its alliance with the Sadr movement before Muqtada Al-Sadr withdrew from the political process.
The Forward Party issued a statement rejecting the Federal Supreme Court’s decision as a “constitutional breach” and “political targeting.” They also announced the boycott of the sessions of the “State Administration Coalition,” which formed the government, comprising various political forces, including Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish forces participating in Mohammed Shiaa Al-Sudani’s government.
The Victory Coalition, led by former Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, and the Wisdom Movement, led by Ammar Al-Hakim, expressed support for the Federal Court’s decisions. The Victory Coalition’s statement emphasized that “no one is above the law,” while Ammar Al-Hakim bid farewell to Al-Halbousi, thanking him for “presiding over Parliament during the past period.”
The Sudanese government has not commented on the resignations of the three ministers, but Al-Sudani met with Al-Halbousi on Wednesday. It was noteworthy that the term “Speaker of Parliament” appeared in the statement issued by his media office. Al-Sudani stressed “the importance of resorting to dialogue and resolving all emerging issues through communication between political forces, which represent the mainstay of the political process.”
The Iraqi Parliament’s presidency also decided to cancel a previous decision issued on Wednesday to strip Mohammed Al-Halbousi of his protection team. The canceled decision was described as “an individual act.” The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Shakhawan Abdulla, stated in a brief statement that the Parliament’s presidency decided to cancel the decision to end the protection contracts of Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi, an act carried out individually by the Director-General of the Administrative Affairs Department, Falah Matrud. Abdullah added that the Parliament’s presidency decided to form a committee to investigate the matter and take the maximum punishment against this director.
The removal of Al-Halbousi‘s membership is the latest episode in the political struggle between Sunni Arab forces for leadership. Al-Halbousi‘s opponents, including the Solution Party led by Jamal Al-Karbouli and the Determination Party led by Muthanna Al-Samarrai, and other small forces classified as close to Iran’s allied parties, have launched several legal actions against Al-Halbousi. They accuse him of monopolizing Sunni decisions, while Al-Halbousi accuses his opponents of being responsible for the era of the ISIS organization and claims that old Sunni leaderships must step aside due to their failure to “manage the components.”
In parallel with the political turmoil, videos circulated on social media showing chaos in Anbar province on Wednesday night, reportedly in rejection of Al-Halbousi‘s removal.
The Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday the arrest of 18 suspects for firing randomly during the chaos in the province. The ministry’s statement emphasized that it would not allow any form of tampering with security and would take the necessary legal measures against anyone attempting to jeopardize stability in all regions of the country. It urged everyone to report any attempts to disrupt stability.