Timeline: Iraqi Political Crisis

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Policy Briefs Program

October 2022

Fast Facts

Timeline: Iraqi Political Crisis

Since 2021’s parliamentary elections, Iraqi politics have been plagued with political stalemate and public dissatisfaction.


October 1, 2019: Protests erupt in Baghdad and southern Iraq, lamenting corruption, unemployment and sectarianism. Demonstrators were met with violent police response. The protests gave rise to the October Protest Movement, which demanded the end of the ethno-sectarian muhasasa system.  

Emerging with U.S. support following the 2003 invasion, the muhasasa political system laid out proportional parliamentary representation between Iraq’s major ethnic groups—Kurdish, Sunni and Shia. While the system intended to guarantee power-sharing between Iraq’s ethnicities, many Iraqis lament that the system continues to exacerbate inter-ethnic rivalry. 


December 1, 2019: In light of the protests’ unfaltering momentum, Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi submits his resignation to parliament.  


February 1, 2020: President Barham Salih appointed former communications minister, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, as the new Prime Minister in February 2020. The protests continued nonetheless, as demonstrators deemed Allawi “part of ruling elite.”


March 17, 2020: Former governor of Iraq’s Najaf province, Adnan al-Zurfi is nominated by President Salih as prime minister, pending approval of parliament. Adnan al-Zurfi eventually withdrew his candidacy for the premiership due to lacking support. 


April 9, 2020: President Salih nominates former Saddam-critic Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as prime minister. 


May 6, 2020: Parliament approves Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as prime minister and also approves 15 cabinet members. 


October 10, 2021: Iraq holds its fifth parliamentary elections since 2003. Initially meant to take place in 2022, the elections were held earlier due to the widespread discontent. 

Muqtada al-Sadr’s faction from the Shia bloc garnered 73 seats and emerged as the single largest faction in parliament. Therefore, in order to assemble a majority coalition, power-sharing between rivaling parties would be necessary. 

 Only 36% of eligible voters turned out to the polls.


December 27, 2021: Despite widespread claims of election fraud, the Iraqi Supreme Court verifies the election results, with minor changes. While Muqtada al-Sadr, who campaigned against both Iranian and American influence in Iraq, seeks to gather a majority coalition without pro-Iranian Shia factions, he has been unable to form a clear majority.  


January 9, 2022: Iraq’s new parliament holds its first session, still without a clear majority bloc. After the acting parliamentary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashahadani was hospitalized, parliament voted to elect Mohammed al-Halbousi as Iraq’s official speaker. 


Feb 7, 2022: The parliamentary vote for president, a ceremonial role customarily occupied by a Kurd, was canceled as only 58 members of parliament attended. According to the 2005 constitution, two thirds of parliament members must be present at the voting of the new president. 


Lawmakers boycotted the voting to protest the bid of the al-Sadr-supported Hoshyar Zebar, who the Supreme Court later ruled could not qualify as president due to pending corruption charges. 


March 26-30, 2022: Parliament failed to meet the necessary two-thirds to vote in a president for a second and third times, due to boycotts from pro-Iranian parties.


June 12, 2022: As the parliamentary deadlock ensued, with neither a prime minister nor a president elected, 73 Iraqi lawmakers followed al-Sadr’s direction and resigned. In a message to his faction, al-Sadr insisted that the decision ​​​is “a sacrifice from me for the country and the people to rid them of the unknown destiny.”​


June 15, 2022: During a closed meeting with members of his parliamentary bloc, al-Sadr conveys that he “will not participate in the next elections if the corrupt participate.” 


June 23, 2022: Iraqi parliament swears in new legislators in response to the Sadrist bloc’s mass resignations; 64 new lawmakers were confirmed. 

The Iraqi Constitution stipulates that unoccupied parliamentary seats will be given to the district’s second ranking candidate. As a result, the Coordination Framework, consisting of Iran-backed politicians, emerged victorious from this development, rising to 122 seats. 


July 27 – 30, 2022: Iraqi demonstrators, aligned with al-Sadr, storm the parliament on July 27 and July 30 to protest the nomination of the pro-Iranian Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as Prime Minister. Following the capitol breach, protestors camped in parliament for a sit-in demonstration


August 2, 2022: A top official from the Iraqi Sadrist movement implores demonstrators to continue protesting but calls on them to relocate their sit-in outdoors. However, the following day, al-Sadr inversely advocates in favor of continuing the sit-in, until early elections are scheduled and the parliament dissolves. 


August 12, 2022: Thousands of al-Sadr supporters demonstrated, urging the judiciary to dismiss parliament and schedule early elections. In response, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced that it “does not have the authority to dissolve parliament” and it cannot “interfere in the work of the legislative or executive authorities.” 


August 23, 2022: Iraq’s Supreme Judiciary Council suspended operations in response to continued protests outside of its headquarters. Council activities resumed the following day.


October 13, 2022: Parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as Iraq’s new president. The Shia politician is now tasked with reconciling the feuding Shia factions after a year of deadlock.


October 15, 2022: Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement assert that they would not participate in a government formed by Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. 


October 27, 2022:  Iraq’s parliament approved a new government. Ministry assignments were distributed to various political parties through the sectarian quota system with the Shiite coalition receiving 12 ministries, the Sunnis receiving six, and the Kurds receiving four. 

Muqtada al-Sadr’s party refused to participate in a government formed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. 



  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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