26 October 2021
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Iraq’s Shiite militias that often serve as a proxy for neighboring Iran have taken a beating in Iraq’s election, while a Shiite cleric who set himself apart by taking a more nationalistic approach has emerged as Iraq’s strongest political figure. The results underscore growing divisions over Iran’s heavy-handed influence in the country, weakening Iran’s allies as it seeks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers and engage with its regional rival, Saudi Arabia. It also heightens tensions among Shiite…
Iraqi voters this month made it clear they have had enough of Iran’s violent interference in the country’s politics. Under the direction of Tehran’s Quds Force — the external operations arm of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — Iraqi Shiite militias have assassinated dozens of activists, suppressed free speech and boasted about their allegiance to the Iranian regime. However, in the Oct. 10 elections, voters punished the militias’ candidates, who saw their bloc shrink from 48 to just 14 of…
Iraqis say they won't be mourning death of former US secretary of state who oversaw catastrophic invasion of their country The death of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has, as is usual with the death of a major political figure, provoked a discussion about his legacy and what his time in office meant to the world. For millions of Iraqis, Powell will be remembered as the man who presented false intelligence before the United Nations as to the…

IRAQ ON THE BRINK Thursday, 14 October 2021 14:10

The parliamentary elections in Iraq on 10th October have done little to consolidate Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s grip on power. It was the lowest turnout in years, indicating a diminishing trust in politicians and the democratic system introduced by the Americans following the US-led invasion in 2003. It appears that the Shi’ite ruling elite have once again swept the board, with the populist cleric and former insurgency leader Moqtada al-Sadr, expanding his faction of MPs. Kadhimi became PM in May…
BAGHDAD/JEDDAH: Turnout plunged to a record low in parliamentary elections in Iraq on Sunday amid a widespread boycott by voters disillusioned by corruption, a crippled economy and failed public services. Electoral commission officials said the nationwide turnout of eligible voters was 19 percent by midday, compared with 44.5 percent in the last election in 2018. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government called the election early in response to protests in October 2019 that toppled the previous administration.  Protesters’ demands included the…

Iraq has elections, but not a democracy Sunday, 10 October 2021 03:30

The country’s militias and politicians only care about lining their own pockets rather than dealing with the concerns of the people. To paraphrase a famous quote, madness is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. This about sums up the insanity of Iraq’s dalliance with the democracy that never was since the US instituted regime change in 2003 at gunpoint. After the elections this Sunday, Iraqis will have been asked to vote for their future…
BAGHDAD — Outside the headquarters of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the main Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, fighters have posted a giant banner showing the U.S. Capitol building swallowed up by red tents, symbols of a defining event in Shiite history. It’s election time in Iraq, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq — blamed for attacks on American forces and listed by the United States as a terrorist organization — is just one of the paramilitary factions whose political wings are likely…
raq’s parliamentary election will be held on October 10, but there are genuine concerns about how free and fair they will be, with experts predicting that a Shiite militia alliance will dominate a weak government. This is dashing the hopes of Iraqis who were promised real change and are instead suffering through abuses by paramilitary groups with no reforms to point to. Prominent activist Hanaa Edwar said: “The Iraqi state is not in control of the situation. Activists and candidates are…
Elections in Iraq next month are being held early in response to mass protests against the government in 2019, but there is scant evidence the vote will improve matters in a country where powerful armed groups still hold sway. Iraqis crave drastic change after years of conflict and corruption following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. A brutal war to fight off Islamic State that ended in 2017 was followed two years later by protests against the ruling elite in which hundreds died. And…
In the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, glossy election campaign posters are plastered alongside jungles of sagging electrical wires lining the alleyway to Abu Ammar’s home. But his mind is far from Iraq’s Oct. 10 federal election. The 56-year-old retired soldier’s social welfare payments barely cover the cost of food and medicine, let alone electricity. Despite chronic outages from the national grid, Abu Ammar can't afford a generator. When the lights go off, he has no choice but to steal…

Iraq elections: The elusive pursuit of reform Thursday, 23 September 2021 15:32

Iraq’s parliamentary elections on 10 October will be a referendum between the established elites who have prevailed since 2003 and seek to preserve the status quo, and outsiders from a protest movement who seek to reform the system. The vote will be to elect 329 lawmakers for Iraq’s unicameral assembly among more than 3,200 candidates. But amid apathy and disdain for Iraq’s political elites, low turnout is likely, as was the case in the 2018 elections.  With a low turnout, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s coalition would presumably…
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