While the casual outsider has been conditioned to understand Iraq through the lens of Sunni vs Shia; Arab vs Kurd; or even Muslims vs Minorities, the reality is that Iraq is deeply beset by intra-group divisions, especially among the Shia and the Kurds.
In the summer of 2022, the political process has rushed to the brink and ground to a standstill as Moqtada al-Sadr and Nuri al-Malaki, two of the most prominent leaders across all Iraqi politics, jockey for power.
Moqtada al-Sadr, who hails from a prominent family of Shia clerics with influence across the Middle East, is the leader of the Sadrist Movement, and was once known as “the most wanted man in Iraq” by the U.S. Today, he is seen as a king-maker who commands the loyalty of perhaps hundreds of thousands across the country who are ready to show up to protest, blockade, or even fight on behalf of the politics he promotes.
Nouri al-Malaki is the former Prime Minister of Iraq who led the country through the height of the civil war and rebuilding years, until the ISIS takeover of approximately one-third of the country in the summer of 2014. After his ouster, he became Vice President and has remained a fixture in the political class ever since while trying to regain the premiership.