For the first time in almost 15 years there is a bit of a calm in Iraq….ISIS has been all but destroyed and in the calm an election broke out…..a democratic norm has brought some unexpected news.
The US was behind the scenes helping Abadi with the campaign to become the PM again……that work brought about nothing that it had intended.
The worldwide populist revolt toppling conventional politicians in the United States, Europe and even the Philippines has now reached Iraq. Most Westerners still following Iraqi politics assumed that incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Dawa Party would handily win the parliamentary election, but nope. Dawa came in third. Firebrand cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Sairun party came in first.
You remember Moqtada al Sadr. He’s the guy who mounted an Iranian-backed Shia insurgency against the United States, the Iraqi government and his Sunni civilian neighbors between 2003 and 2008. He’s a very different person today. He still raises and shakes his fist in the air but today he’s shaking it at crooked elites, and he’s shaking it at his former Iranian patrons.
When the election took place I wrote on my other blog, In Saner Thought, about the outcome……
Democracy Comes To Iraq?
It seems that the foe of American occupation, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Shia militia that fought the US for a couple of years…but will this mean for te way forward for Iraq?
The emerging vote tallies are just the beginning of government formation in Iraq, and they indicate a need to focus on U.S. principles, not specific outcomes.
Despite an evidently strong showing by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon alliance in Iraq’s May 12 vote, “hot takes” are particularly useless for Iraqi elections, because the public itself does not directly elect the prime minister and his cabinet, and because the process is long and winding.
Instead, the 329 parliamentarians appoint the prime minister by drawing together any 165 seats, regardless of their party affiliation and pre-electoral alignment. This means everything remains in play the day after the polls close, and quite possibly for months to come. If the government takes as long to form as it did in 2014, the cabinet will be appointed September 20, 2018. If government formation takes the 289 days it did in 2010, the new cabinet would be seated February 25, 2019. The most likely outcome this time may be somewhere between the two, with a new government landing in November 2018.
Another turn that is making regional news is that the Saudis are trying to regain their influence in Iraq……
Saudi Arabia is re-engaging with Iraq after nearly a quarter-century of broken ties. The rapprochement began in 2016, sharply accelerated in mid-2017 and stands to move even faster after Iraq’s general elections in May 2018, particularly if politicians open to reconnecting with Saudi Arabia succeed in forming a government. Riyadh’s strategy is to ride a wave of Iraqi national pride, reinvest economically and build relationships across ethnic and confessional lines. If its objective is to roll back Iran’s influence in Iraq, however, it will find that many Iraqis – even those who are critical of Iran’s overweening influence – view that as a red line, a way of turning their country back into an arena of regional combat. If it moves too fast and favours infusions of cash over carefully calibrated and targeted economic assistance, it will fuel rather than curb rampant corruption. And it will need to silence sectarian rhetoric to reach out across Iraq’s ethnic and religious spectrum.
Iraqis from various political, confessional and social groups say they welcome the apparent course change. In part, their enthusiasm stems from necessity. The new relationship comes amid a rare international consensus that the calm in Iraq must be consolidated, lest the country regress into violent conflict. The Islamic State (ISIS) has been purged from most Iraqi territory, national pride is swelling and investor confidence is up. Yet if the government and its partners cannot produce a tangible peace dividend, secure liberated areas, and end a cycle of sectarian and ethnic retribution, those gains could easily be reversed. Western partners have already started walking back their financial commitments, hoping their Gulf allies will fill the gap.
Will this prove to be useful in the divide between the twp branches of Islam…..Sadr is Shia, MbS is Sunni……they have been at each others throats since the 8th century AD and now we are to believe that the future king od the Saudis will make nice with the Shia?
Keep in mind that Iraq will still have to ask for Iranian blessings for the new government…..
If Haider al-Abadi retains the Iraqi premiership, he will have done so with Iran’s blessing. Iran and Iraq have maintained good relations throughout Abadi’s tenure. Abadi owes Iran and the Popular Mobilization Units, including those backed by Tehran, for their decisive role in responding to the ill-fated Iraqi Kurdish referendum last year, a huge win for Abadi.
Abadi may not be the first choice among Iran’s leaders, but they have a well-established working relationship. Abadi also depends on Washington, but Tehran will likely be the last stop on the road to a new government in Iraq
As per normal the US will meddle in the Iraqi government…..
As parliamentarians in Baghdad work to form a new governing coalition in the wake of this month’s elections, their counterparts in Washington are seeking to sanction more than a dozen of the Iraqi legislators over their links to Iran.
The House of Representatives unanimously voted last week on legislation requiring President Donald Trump to sanction “persons that are officials, agents, affiliates of or owned and controlled by” two prominent Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq and Syria. The amendment from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill targets Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, both of which are part of the Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units battling the Islamic State.
To me it is not possible that Iraq will be a stable democracy….at least not right now….but I will watch and amend my opinion if it becomes necessary…..