What We're Watching: Iraqis storm parliament, US nears landmark climate deal, Senegal set to vote
Anti-Iran protesters storm Iraq’s parliament
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters breached Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday and stormed the parliament. The demonstrators – supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most seats in parliamentary elections last fall – chanted anti-Iran slogans as they rummaged through paperwork and took selfies. Crucially, they rallied against the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister backed by a pro-Iran alliance, to become the next PM. For almost a year, Tehran-aligned parties have prevented al-Sadr from forming a new government, prompting the cleric’s 73 lawmakers to resign en masse last month in protest, and plunging the crisis-ridden country further into political and social turmoil. As a result, the pro-Iran bloc became the biggest parliamentary faction … by default. The demonstrators have since disbursed, but temperatures are rising in a country where joblessness and popular disillusionment are sky-high. What’s more, al-Sadr has proven adept at whipping his supporters into a frenzy in recent months, suggesting that instability in Iraq is likely to get much worse.
A historic US climate breakthrough?
Democrats appear to have forged a landmark deal to combat climate change. The $369 billion investment and tax package has been greeted ecstatically by climate activists in the US and around the globe, but it’s being condemned by Republicans who warn it will further fuel inflation. Key to the breakthrough: plans to use tax incentives, rather than relying more heavily on government spending, to boost wind, solar, geothermal, battery, and other clean energy industries. Why is this potentially such a big deal? Given the size of its economy and the scale of its carbon emissions, there can be no global breakthrough in the fight against climate change without active leadership and major investment from the United States. Based on past voting patterns of US lawmakers, it’s clear there can be no climate leadership and major investment unless Democrats hold the White House and have majorities in both houses of Congress. November’s US midterm elections will likely give Republicans control of at least one house of Congress, and President Biden’s abysmal approval ratings give the GOP an excellent shot in 2024. The breakthrough came when Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) appeared to drop previous opposition to the scale of this plan. He says his fears that the package will further stoke inflation have been addressed. There’s still a wildcard: Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the other Democrat who sometimes bucks her party on big legislation, hasn’t yet made her position clear.