19 June 2018
English Arabic
BAGHDAD—As Iraq’s fragmented political forces negotiate how to form a new government following last month’s elections, two issues loom large. Will Iraq’s recent policy of carefully balancing ties with Iran and its rivals, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia—an approach championed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi—survive in a new political environment? And will Iraq’s new government be able to take painful steps to jump-start economic reforms, eliminating inefficient subsidies and dismantling corrupt patronage networks that stifle development? The May 12 election dealt a major…

Are Iraq's Communists on the rise again? Wednesday, 23 May 2018 22:26

It can only be regarded as a remarkable comeback. Communists, after decades in Iraq’s political wilderness, have formed an unexpected alliance with populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who swept to victory in the country’s parliamentary elections. The electoral commission announced that the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) had attained just two seats in parliament. But, crucially, their coalition with Mr Al Sadr's Marching Towards Reform bloc (Sairoun) may give them a voice in the next government. Forty-four year old Sadr…
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran’s favored candidates to come in first in national elections, says he wants to form a government that puts Iraqis first. The electoral commission announced early Saturday that the militant-turned-populist preacher, who has long spoken out against both Iranian and U.S. influence in Iraq, had defeated his establishment rivals. Al-Sadr — who is remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion —…
BAGHDAD — Iraqis are still haunted by memories of black-clad death squads roaming Baghdad neighborhoods a decade ago, cleansing them of Sunnis as the country was convulsed by sectarian violence. Many of the mass killings in the capital were done in the name of Moktada al-Sadr, a cleric best remembered by Americans for fiery sermons declaring it a holy duty among his Shiite faithful to attack United States forces. The militia he led was armed with Iranian-supplied weapons, and Mr.…
Regardless of how one chooses to read the outcome of last Saturday’s elections in Iraq, one thing is for sure: Iraqi voters have rejected the status quo and sought fresh political players to take over. Outgoing prime minister Haider Al Abadi, whose Victory List wooed disenchanted Sunni voters as well as Shiites, lost most of his base to two opposing coalitions: An anti-Iran, anti-United States alliance of Islamists, secularists and Communists, led by nationalist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, and…
WASHINGTON — Fourteen years after Muqtada al-Sadr’s militias fought American troops, the United States is preparing to work hand in hand with the charismatic Shiite cleric and his movement, hoping to find common cause in curtailing Iran’s influence in the wake of an upset Iraqi election. Like many Iraqis, Washington was caught off guard by the election, in which a coalition organized by al-Sadr took the largest share of the parliamentary vote. Although al-Sadr, who didn’t run himself, won’t become…
THERE is an air of optimism in Iraq, which will hold parliamentary elections on May 12th. It will be the fifth such vote since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, bolstering Iraq’s status as one of the few Arab democracies. Under the country’s electoral law 25% of parliament’s 329 seats must be held by women (see chart). Nearly 2,600 of them (37% of candidates) are running this year. Campaign posters of female candidates, some wearing Islamic headscarves, others uncovered…
Finally, and thanks to the upcoming elections it seems, the machine has begun working, and we now hope that it will not break down again or suffer any damages that burn out its engine as soon as the ballot boxes close on the evening of the 12th of May. By the machine, I mean the one fighting administrative and financial corruption. Fighting corrupt leaders In the past few months, Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi escalated his tone while speaking out on…
There has been a rising sentiment against Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs among members of the Shia community. The upcoming Iraqi parliamentary and local elections are likely to present an opportunity for Iraq to curb Iranian influence, which has dominated the country since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Ahead of the May 12 elections, the Iraqi government and influential politicians have been engaged in reconciliatory moves vis-a-vis Iraq’s neighbours, breaking its apparent overdependence on Iran. A visit by Iraqi Prime Minister…
On the 15th anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US forces, Iraq is reaching another critical moment in its troubled history. The outcome of the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 12 could end the more positive trajectory under the current leadership and inaugurate yet another troublesome chapter. Possibly, perhaps even most likely, these elections will institutionalize Lebanon’s Hezbollah model (in the most negative of senses) in Iraq.Iraq’s political system since the US invasion already replicates Lebanon’s. After one-and-a-half…
Iran's influence is looming large as Iraqis prepare to head to the polls for parliamentary elections in May, with many in the country worried that Tehran may be looking to strengthen its political grip on Baghdad through the ballot box. Iranian support and military advisers helped Baghdad's Shiite-led government beat back the Islamic State group. But with IS militants now largely defeated militarily, Iran's expanding influence has emerged as one of Iraq's most divisive issues ahead of the balloting. That…
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