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Iraqis vote in first election since defeating Islamic State

Discussion in 'The NF Café' started by mr_shadow, May 12, 2018.

  1. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Iraqis began voting in the first parliamentary election on Saturday since defeating Islamic State, but few people expect its new leaders to deliver the stability and economic prosperity that have long been promised.

    The oil producer has struggled to find a formula for stability since a U.S.-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, and many Iraqis have lost faith in their politicians.

    Whoever the new parliament chooses as prime minister will face an array of challenges after a three-year war against Islamic State which cost the country about $100 billion.

    Much of the northern city of Mosul was reduced to rubble in fighting to oust Islamic State, and it will require billions of dollars to rebuild. The economy is stagnant.

    Sectarian tensions, which erupted into civil war in 2006-2007, are still a major security threat. And Iraq's two main backers, Washington and Tehran, are at loggerheads.

    The three main ethnic and religious groups -- the majority Shi'ite Arabs and the Sunni Arabs and Kurds -- have been at odds for decades, and the sectarian divisions remain as deep as ever.

    Reuters reporters saw polling stations open in Baghdad and other cities.

    "I will participate but I will mark an 'X' on my ballot. There is no security, no jobs, no services. Candidates are just looking to line up their pockets, not to help people," said Jamal Mowasawi, a 61-year-old butcher.

    The three main candidates for prime minister, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki and Shi'ite militia commander Hadi al-Amiri all need the support of Iran.

    U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal will prompt Iran to maintain its vast political and military influence in Iraq, the most important Arab state for Tehran.

    Abadi is considered by analysts to be marginally ahead, but victory is far from certain for the man who raised hopes that he could forge unity when he came to office.

    But while he reached out to minority Sunnis he alienated Kurds after crushing their bid for independence.

    He improved his standing with the victory against Islamic State, which had occupied a third of Iraq.

    But Abadi lacks charisma and has failed to improve the economy and tackle corruption. He also cannot rely solely on votes from his community as the Shi'ite voter base is unusually split this year. Instead, he is looking to draw support from other groups.

    Even if Abadi's Victory Alliance list wins the most seats, he still has to negotiate the formation of a coalition government, which must be concluded within 90 days of the election.

    "It's the same faces and same programs. Abadi is the best of the worst; at least under his rule we had the liberation (from Islamic State)," said Hazem al-Hassan, 50-year-old fishmonger in Baghdad.

    Amiri spent more than two decades fighting Saddam from exile in Iran. The 63-year-old leads the Badr Organisation, which was the backbone of the volunteer forces that fought Islamic State.

    He hopes to capitalize on his battlefield successes. Victory for Amiri would be a win for Iran, which is locked in proxy wars for influence across the Middle East.

    DISILLUSION

    But many Iraqis are disillusioned with war heroes and politicians who have failed to restore state institutions and provide badly needed health and education services.

    "There is no trust between the people and the governing class," said Hussein Fadel, a 42-year-old supermarket cashier in the capital. "All sides are terrible. I will not vote."

    Critics say Maliki's sectarian policies created an atmosphere that enabled Islamic State to gain sympathy among some Sunnis as it swept across Iraq in 2014.

    Maliki was sidelined soon afterward, having been in office for eight years, but he is now trying to make a comeback.

    In contrast to Abadi, with his cross-sectarian message, Maliki is again posing as Iraq's Shi'ite champion, and has proposed doing away with the unofficial power-sharing model under which all main parties have cabinet representatives.

    Iraq's Sunni minority had dominated key positions in government during Saddam's brutal rule, whereas majority Shi'ites have held sway since a U.S-led invasion toppled the dictator in 2003.

    Maliki, who pushed for U.S. troop withdrawals, and Amiri, who speaks fluent Farsi and spent years in exile in Iran during Saddam's time, are both seen as much closer to Tehran than Abadi.

    The post of prime minister has been reserved for a Shi'ite, the speaker is a Sunni, and the ceremonial presidency has gone to a Kurd - all three chosen by parliament.

    More than 7,000 candidates in 18 provinces, or governorates, are running this year for 329 parliamentary seats.

    In Kirkuk, the main oil city disputed by Iraq's Kurds and the Baghdad government, 90-year-old Najm al-Azzawi has witnessed Iraq's upheaval over many years: Saddam Hussein's military adventures and the crippling international sanctions that followed, the U.S. occupation, sectarian bloodshed and Islamic State's reign of terror.

    But he has not lost hope.

    "God save Iraqis from the darkness they have been in," he said. "It is the most joyful thing to vote."

     
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  2. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Such a shame what that country has come to, given that it's the oldest civilization in the world.

    But something that's weird is that the settlement patterns of the southern Shia Arabs and the northern Sunni Arabs corresponds somewhat to the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian cultures, respectively.

    It's like there's an eternal struggle between the two regions which is filtered through whatever conflict dimension is currently in fashion (right now: religion).
     
  3. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States, has all but won Iraq’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said, in a surprise turn of fortune for the Shi’ite leader.

    In the first election since Islamic State was defeated in the country, Iran-backed Shi’ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri’s bloc was in second place, while Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, once seen as the front-runner, trailed in third.

    The preliminary results were based on a count of more than 91 percent of the votes cast in 16 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

    Sadr’s bloc did not run in the remaining two provinces, Kurdish Dohuk and the ethnically-mixed oil province of Kirkuk. The results there, which may be delayed due to tensions between local parties, will not affect Sadr’s standing.

    Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shi’ite majority into power.

    Sadr has led two uprisings against U.S. forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shi’ite leaders to distance himself from Iran.

    Despite the election setback, Abadi might still be granted a second term in office by parliament and on Monday he called on all political blocs to respect the results and suggested he was willing to work with Sadr to form a government.

    “We are ready to work and cooperate in forming the strongest government for Iraq, free of corruption,” Abadi said in a live televised address. Corruption has been at the top of Sadr’s agenda for several years.

    Projecting himself as an Iraqi nationalist, Sadr has a zealous following among the young, poor and dispossessed, but he had been sidelined by influential Iran-backed figures.

    He cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his apparent victory puts him in a position to pick someone for the job.

    But even then, his bloc might not necessarily form the next government. Whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government in order to have a majority in parliament. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

    Saturday’s election is the first since the defeat of Islamic State last year. The group overran a third of Iraq in 2014.

    Turnout was 44.52 percent with 92 percent of votes counted, the Independent High Electoral Commission said, the lowest participation rate in Iraq’s post-Saddam history. Full results are due to be officially announced later on Monday.

    ELECTION CALCULUS

    Sadr and Amiri both came in first in four of the 10 provinces where votes were counted, but the cleric’s bloc won significantly more votes in the capital, Baghdad, which has the highest number of seats.

    A document provided to Reuters by a candidate in Baghdad that was also circulating among journalists and analysts showed results from all 18 provinces.

    Reuters could not independently verify the document’s authenticity but the results in it for the 16 announced provinces were in line with those announced by the commission.

    Reuters calculations based on the document showed Sadr had won the nationwide popular vote with over 1.3 million votes and gained around 54 of parliament’s 329 seats.

    He was followed by Amiri with more than 1.2 million votes, translating into around 47 seats, and Abadi with more than 1 million votes and about 42 seats. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran like Amiri, came in fourth with around 25 seats.

    The remaining uncounted ballots, mostly from Iraqis abroad, the security services, and internally displaced people voting in camps and elsewhere, might change the final seat tallies but only marginally.

    Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister. The other winning blocs would have to agree on the nomination.

    In a 2010 election, Vice President Ayad Allawi’s group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was blocked from becoming premier for which he blamed Tehran.

    NEW GOVERNMENT

    A similar fate could befall Sadr. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow his bloc to govern.

    “We will not allow liberals and communists to govern in Iraq,” Ali Akbar Velayati, top adviser to the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in February.

    His statement, which sparked criticism by Iraqi figures, was referring to the electoral alliance between Sadr, the Iraqi Communist Party and other secular groups which joined protests organised by Sadr in 2016 to press the government to see through a move to stem endemic corruption.

    Iraqi Communist Party Secretary General Raed Fahmy told Reuters the vote in favour of Sadr’s list, backed by his group, “is a clear message that we must have balanced relations with all (countries) based on non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs”.

    “Everybody is welcome to provide support to Iraq, but not at the expense of its sovereignty and independence,” he added.

    During the campaign, frustrated Iraqis of all shades complained about their political elite’s systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption, saying they did not receive any benefits of their country’s oil wealth.

    “This vote is a clear message that the people want to change the system of governance that has produced corruption and weakened state institutions,” said Fahmy.

    Iraq has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, with high unemployment, poverty, weak public institutions and crumbling infrastructure despite high oil revenues for many years. Endemic corruption has eaten at the government’s financial resources.

    Fahmy told his party’s website that Abadi’s bloc was “closer” to Sadr’s than others.

    BALANCING ACT

    Sadr derives much of his authority from his family. His father, highly respected Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, was killed in 1999 for defying Saddam Hussein. His father’s cousin, Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, was killed by Saddam in 1980.

    Celebrations erupted on the streets of Baghdad after the commission’s announcement, with thousands of Sadr’s supporters singing, chanting, dancing and setting off fireworks while carrying his picture and waving Iraqi flags.

    Many chanted “Iran out”.

    Whoever wins the election will have to contend with the fallout from U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal, a move Iraqis fear could turn their country into a theatre of conflict between Washington and Tehran.

    Abadi, a British-educated engineer, came to power four years ago after Islamic State seized a third of Iraq’s territory. He received U.S. military support that was helped the victory of Iraqi security forces over the Sunni militant group, and gave free rein to Iran to back Shi’ite militias fighting on the same side.

    If parliament does grant him a second term, Abadi will remain under pressure to maintain the balancing act between Washington and Tehran.

     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  4. Mider T VM Rapist

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    For fucking Sadr:facepalm. Such a stupid choice :headdesk
     
  5. Prince Vegeta So I be written in the book of love

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    I Voted :mahbama
     
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  6. WT #for the watch

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    The condition to democracy is to have an enlightened population who can make independent and informed decisions.

    Iraq has none of these qualities

    What Iraq and many other countries need is a benevolent yet strong dictator who owns the country and tries to improve it rather than corrupt puppet officials.
     
  7. Mider T VM Rapist

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    That's a terrible idea. That's how you get a cult of personality and weak institutions. After those leaders deaths the country usually descends into anarchy.
     
  8. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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  9. Khaleesi Super Moderator

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    I’ll care once any Iraqi politician actually wants to good by the Kurds, until then every election is just so some Sunni or Shi’a can be elected and wage war on the other
     
  10. Prince Vegeta So I be written in the book of love

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    And USA was against the kurds for having referendum that 92% people voted for.

    That's not democracy either.
     
  11. Rain nulla crux, nulla corona

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  12. makeoutparadise I will have my revenge

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    you live in Iraq?
     
  13. Prince Vegeta So I be written in the book of love

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    No im in europe.


    But i was in Kurdistan for 6 weeks a month ago
     
  14. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Iraq has the same population as Canada, but the same GDP as Greece. :facepalm

    If Iraq had the same GDP/capita as Canada, they'd be the #9 economy and not the #54 like they are now.
     
  15. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    A political bloc led by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States who also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq, has won the country's parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Saturday.

    Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his bloc's victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations. His Sairoon electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats.

    The Victory Alliance, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, trailed in third place with 42 seats, several seats behind the Al-Fatih bloc, which won 47 seats.

    Al-Fatih is led by Hadi al-Amiri, who has close ties with Iran and heads an umbrella group of paramilitaries that played a key role in defeating Islamic State.

    The results were announced a week after Iraqis voted in a nationwide election, which produced surprising results amid historically low turnout.

    Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister.

    Since no electoral list won an outright majority, negotiations to form a government are expected to drag on for months.

    Parties will have to align themselves to try and form a block large enough for the parliamentary majority necessary to nominate a candidate.

    "Your vote is an honour for us," Sadr tweeted moments after the official results were announced in the early hours of Saturday morning. "We will not disappoint you."

    REBUKE

    The victory was a surprising change of fortunes for the Shi'ite cleric. Sadr, who made his name leading two violent uprisings against U.S. occupation troops, had been sidelined for years by Iranian-backed rivals.

    His bloc's performance represented a rebuke to a political elite that some voters blame for widespread corruption and dysfunctional governance.

    It was also bolstered by a historically low turnout across the country, estimated earlier in the week at 44.5 percent. Sadr maintains a loyal base of supporters who turned up to the polls amid widespread national apathy.

    Sadr's unlikely alliance with communists and secular Iraqis says it fiercely opposes any foreign interference in Iraq, which is strongly backed by both Tehran and Washington.

    It has promised to help the poor and build schools and hospitals in Iraq, which was battered in the war to defeat Islamic state and has suffered from low oil prices.

    Before the election, Iran publicly stated it would not allow Sadr’s bloc to govern.

    The election dealt a blow to Abadi, but he could still emerge as a compromise candidate palatable to all sides because he has skillfully managed the competing interests of the United States and Iran - unwitting allies in the war against Islamic State - during his term in office.

    Amiri is regarded as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq. He spent two decades fighting Saddam Hussein from Iran.

    Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and a highly influential figure in Iraq, has been holding talks with politicians in Baghdad to promote the formation of a new cabinet which would have Iran’s approval.

    Earlier on Saturday, Sadr met a group of ambassadors from neighboring countries, including Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

    During the meeting, Sadr called for a strengthening of ties with neighboring states which have "historical and cultural ties with Iraq", according to a statement from his office.

    Sadr visited Riyadh late last year, signaling a possible rapprochement with Saudi Arabia which has been tentatively seeking to increase its involvement in Iraq.

    The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

     
  16. Mider T VM Rapist

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    You don't expect it to have the same GDP as Canada do you?
     
  17. Raiden .....

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    Hoping that some stability continues <________<.
     
  18. Khaleesi Super Moderator

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    > stability
    > in Iraq

    Stability was thrown out the window when the British and French decided to haphazardly draw state lines in Iraq based on the oil and not on what groups of people were there
     
  19. Batzzaro29 Well-Known Member

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    Iraqi needs CCC "Chinese Capitalist Communism" because democracy will surely fail them if they keep choosing shit leaders.

    Only China can help them not west.
     
  20. Mider T VM Rapist

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    That wouldn't work in Iraq for a number of reasons.
     
  21. makeoutparadise I will have my revenge

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    Thanks comrade Bat
    You will greatly aide the people's cause
     
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