On 5 December, a criminal court in Baghdad sentenced an Iraqi activist to three years in prison for a tweet that mocked and criticized Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, former head of the government-salaried paramilitary organization Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The sentence, which follows a number of arrests targeting activists, sparked anti-government demonstrations. At least three protesters were shot dead and several injured as Iraqi security forces responded with deadly violence. Human rights groups have criticized the prison sentence and expressed concerns regarding the alarming escalation of legal threats against civil society and use of the justice system as a tool to suppress peaceful criticism by Iraqi authorities.
The Parliament of Iraq elected Abdul Latif Rashid as president on 13 October, after obtaining support from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Shiite Coordination Framework. Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani was named Prime Minister by President Rashid and tasked to form a cabinet. PM al-Sudani’s proposed cabinet was approved by the parliament on 27 October, paving the way for a new government and break of what has been a year-long political deadlock. Prominent Shi’ite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr refused to participate in Iraq’s government.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi convened a second round of talks on 5 September to resolve the ongoing political crisis between rival Shia blocs. Shi'ite Muslim cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for the dissolution of the legislature and the holding of early elections in light of the current parliament’s failure to form Iraq’s new government. This proposal was rejected by the Supreme Court on 7 September, and parliamentary sessions resumed by the end of the month, with over 200 MPs in attendance. Several rockets were fired into the Green Zone as parliament was holding a vote to confirm its speaker with airstrikes and clashes lasting several days, wounding at least seven police officers.
The long fluctuating political situation in Iraq over stalled attempts to form a government sparked violent clashes on 29 August. A deadly confrontation was triggered by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's announcement that he was “retiring” from politics following the withdrawal of 73 Sadrist MPs last June, after failing to form a new government due to the Coordination Framework's obstruction. At least 30 people were killed and about 600 injured. This was Baghdad’s worst period of violence in years. While the violence subsided, deepening tensions between Sadrist Framework alliance and the Iran-backed Coordination continue. The political climate in the country remains tense, with both competing sides ready to again resort to arms and analysts claim Iraq could be on the verge of another civil war. The continuing political crisis led to the resignation of the Finance Minister this month, and the Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi threatening to step down if the conflict continues.