Pro-Iranian Parties Debacle in Iraq Elections Directs to Instability

The anger of Iraqi parties affiliated with the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) continues to be at the results of the recent Iraqi elections, which has been considered as an “earthquake”, strucking the parliamentary blocs affiliated with those parties, especially Fatah, as it has only won 15 parliamentary seats.

It is worthy of mention that Fatah, which is considered the most powerful within the Popular Mobilization militias, had won in the last elections 48 seats. This number made it one of the strongest alliances in the Iraqi parliament in its last electoral cycle.

The new escalating features by what is known as “Coordinating Framework”, including the Iraqi factions and parties backed by Iran, are noted in their renewed refusal to recognize the issued results demanding that they must not be approved before responding to all the appeals submitted against them. In addition, there has been a major attack by these parties against the High Electoral Commission, coinciding with the Popular Mobilization supporters moving in the Iraqi street near the Green Zone.

For his part, Mahmoud Al-Hayani, a member of Fatah Alliance, confirms that there is vote rigging that targets the parties supporting the Popular Mobilization Forces. He points out that the change in the results of the ballot has been carried out by foreign hands in order to conspire against PMF.

“PMF is being subjected to a major conspiracy aimed at ending its presence by internal and external parties that do not want Iraq’s best interest,” Al-Hayani adds.

Iran’s choices

Although the losing parties in elections are ready to move and challenging the results, Abdul-Jabbar al-Kilani, a political analyst, rules out that the High Elections Commission will retract the announced results. He mentions that if the pro-Iranian parties were still intransigent with their positions, the country would be closer to a civil war.

“There is an explicit winner, and it has a popular base on the ground, and that is the Sadrist movement, which in turn will not accept any change in the results that would take this victory away; therefore, the demands of the Popular Mobilization Parties may also cause a war on the Shiite streets, which does not correspond to Iran’s interest at the moment,” Al-Kilani adds. He draws attention that the escalation line will have a breaking point that will stop it.

The announced results have revealed the progress of the Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, in the elections, after it won nearly 70 parliamentary seats.

Al-Kilani also considers that Iran is aware of the fact that its sponsorship of any acts of chaos or violence in Iraq may be reflected in its efforts to get rid of some of the sanctions imposed on its interest, and may also expose Iran to even more sanctions that would close the door of any negotiation from the international community. The analyst stresses that chaos in this region is generally achieving Iran’s interests, but only to some extent, and that the conditions today in Iraq have changed from what they were in 2003.

Moreover, Al-Kilani believes that Iran should accept the defeat of its parties in Iraq and try to deal with the new reality in a calmer manner. He emphasizes that that any escalatory moves by Iran or its militias in Iraq may make them loose a new Qassem Soleimani.

Al-Kilani stresses that Donald Trump leaving power in US and Joe Biden arriving would not mean that Iran has become immune from retaliatory American reactions. He refers that the decisions of killing and targeting are not entirely related to the American president, but rather to intelligence reports and US national security imperatives.

As for the most important point, Al-Kilani opines that the US administration will not bear the consequences of repeating the Afghanistan scenario in Iraq, and that the Biden administration realizes that repeating that scenario may drag it into a very difficult internal American reality that may even lead to dismissing the president. Therefore, Biden administration will not allow a new mistake of this kind to be made, coinciding with the approaching withdrawal of US forces from Iraq at the end of this year.

Determined position and statements

What the Iraqi government and official statements look like shows a state of stability regarding the election results. Iraqi President Barham Salih considers that holding the elections is an important step towards forming a parliament and an effective government, in response to the aspirations of Iraqis for a free and dignified life, and strengthening economic, trade relations and investment support. Iraq looks forward to enhancing the requirements of reconstruction and development in the country.

In addition, Hasan Salman, the Director of the Media and Mass Communication Department at the Electoral Commission, reveals that the number of appeals against the first announcement of the results that came less than 24 hours after the closing of the general vote amounted to 1,360. Salman confirms that all appeals were submitted to the judicial authority, which in turn responded.

It is noteworthy that Iraqi media have announced that the Iraqi judicial authorities have rejected all appeals against the results of the early parliamentary elections that took place on the tenth of this month.

Al-Maliki again

According to the journalist Majed Al-Samarrai, the state of confusion that the Iranian-backed militias have been living for more than two years and their loss of their parliamentary position may open the door to have Nouri al-Maliki, the former Iraqi Prime Minister, back on the scene again as a representative of Iranian influence in Iraq instead of the militia figures. The journalist considers that the opportunity is great for al-Maliki, especially after Hadi al-Amiri and the Militias have been defeated.

“It is, as if al-Maliki’s tongue says to his guardians: are you sure now that I am your winning horse in Iraq,” Al-Samarrai adds. He points out that the recent elections reveal that the dispute among Shiite leaders is merely about the leadership, which means the acquisition of money and influence, and not serving the people. It is also seen with these results that the priority in the governing authority must be loyalty to Tehran, instead of the one to Iraq.

Al-Samarrai also considers that Nouri al-Maliki is now regaining the lead in the election results topping Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Maliki has been actively working despite the scandals surrounding his reign for eight years, such as corruption and involving in the disaster of the occupation of Mosul by ISIS. The journalist stresses that the affiliated parties, after their electoral defeat, have announced their truth through their alienation and their non-recognition of the identity and independence of the Iraqi nation.

It is noteworthy that the term “affiliated parties” refers to a group of pro-Iranian parties that declare allegiance to the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Revolution and to the Wilayat al-Faqih.

In the same context, Abdullah Abdul Salam, a researcher in Middle East affairs, rules out the return of Al-Maliki to power again, especially with the constant eruption of the Iraqi street that keeps rejecting the ruling authority and the political class that has existed since 2003, of which Al-Maliki was one of its pillars. Abul Salam confirms that all he can get is increased Iranian support and a certain sphere of influence within the Iraqi arena.

As for the shift from armed influence to the political, Abdul Salam links that to the extent of the Iranian regime’s ability to interpret the scene and the developments taking place. The researcher thinks that the Iranian regime has proven its failure in many situations regarding this matter, and that the arrival of the radical mainstream to absolute rule in Iran has pushes the regime to commit some uncalculated acts.

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