Iran-linked parties reject results after major setback
The political landscape in Iraq was set to change drastically on Monday evening with the vast majority of votes counted in more than 95% of electoral districts, giving a bloc led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr the overwhelming majority in the national ballot.
But the result was disputed on Tuesday by Hadi Al Amiri, head of the now defeated Fatah Alliance, who, according to one indictment, won just 14 seats on the 329-member assembly, a huge drop by compared to its performance in 2018, when it obtained 48 seats.
Fatah’s poor performance is seen as a resounding rejection of authoritarian Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs.
“We will not accept these fabricated results, whatever the cost,” Al Amiri said, speaking to pro-Iranian Al Aahd TV station.
By the highest tally, the Sadrist bloc led with 73 seats out of a 329-member assembly, putting it in pole position to appoint the prime minister and claim the lion’s share of cabinet posts.
Analysts were surprised at the extent to which political parties linked to Iran suffered in the poll.
Mr. Al Amiri also heads the Badr Organization – a paramilitary group that became a political party formed in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. The Islamist group has long been one of the main intermediaries of power in post-2003 Iraq, growing in importance in the aftermath of the US-led invasion.
With Iran’s backing, he secured his position in the political arena by refraining from openly attacking US forces, despite maintaining some ties with insurgent groups and filling the police ranks with loyalists. , who have been accused of numerous human rights violations.
But the Fatah Alliance’s fortunes have fallen dramatically following a nationwide protest movement against corruption and poor public services, which began in October 2019.
Political factions of the Fatah Alliance linked to the militias, including Asaib Ahl Al Haq of Qais Al Khazali, have been accused of killing around 600 protesters.
This has led to growing public outrage across Iraq, eclipsing a claim by the Popular Mobilization Forces within Fatah to have saved the country from ISIS.
Most of the Fatah Alliance parties are longtime rivals of Mr. Al Sadr, the die-hard nationalist cleric who has vowed to keep Iraq free from foreign influence. Armed men from both sides fought bloody street battles in the holy city of Karbala in 2007. Fifty died before calm was restored.
Mr. Al Sadr rejects the Iranian system of government adopted by Fatah followers. Fatah and Sadrists frequently accuse each other of corruption.
Al Amiri’s remarks could pave the way for intra-Shiite Islamist tensions in the weeks to come as government formation begins.
But there have been several other surprising developments that complicate the picture, including the return of former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, whose Coalition for the Rule of Law won 37 seats, 12 more than in 2018.
While this allocation isn’t a game-changer for the former prime minister, it could make it harder to build alliances to form the larger bloc, which will have the biggest say in forming the government.
Sunni parliament speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Taqaddum coalition won 38 seats, the state-run Iraqi news agency reported, making it the second-largest parliament.
The Kurdish parties won 61 seats, according to the results, including 32 for the Democratic Party of Kurdistan which dominates the government of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, and 15 for its rival the Patriotic Union of the Kurdistan Party, which historically maintains good relations with Iran. related parties.
A number of peripheral parties, including the New Generation Kurdish Party, the Imtidad Reform Movement and a host of independent candidates – just a few of the 3,249 candidates vying for parliament – will further complicate government formation at the time. that new blocs emerge to challenge the Sadrist bloc.
Kerar Haider, 26, busy removing campaign posters from the streets of the capital’s Karrada district, said he did not vote “because it is unnecessary”.
“The same faces keep coming back,” he said.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi brought forward the vote to appease a youth-led protest movement that erupted two years ago against corruption, unemployment and the collapse of public services.
Iraq is a major oil producer but nearly a third of its nearly 40 million people live in poverty, according to UN figures, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only helped aggravate a long-standing crisis.
Mr. Al Kadhimi’s political future is now uncertain, with few observers willing to predict who will become the leader after the political haggling between factions following the Iraqi elections.
The election was held under tight security in a country where the main parliamentary blocs have armed factions and where ISIS has launched suicide attacks this year causing many casualties.
Update: October 12, 2021, 10:01 am