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Oct 16, 2021
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Elections in Iraq: Subtotal

On the evening of October 10, the last polling stations in Iraq were closed – voting on candidates for the new parliament ended. The event for the country is undoubtedly extraordinary, since the elections were held under a new law, which introduced significant changes to the electoral process. Electoral districts were split up (instead of 18, there were 83), and voting on party lists was canceled. Of the 329 seats in parliament, 320 seats are distributed by administrative-territorial units depending on the size of the population, the remaining nine are allocated to ethno-confessional minorities. It has been established that at least a quarter of the mandates must be received by women. By the decision of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi, the elections were early, six months earlier than the deadline stipulated by law, and this step is not only decisive, but also quite risky. It is likely that Western political strategists were the initiators – do not forget that the current head of government spent almost 30 years in exile in Great Britain and the United States. A former journalist and human rights activist, on his return to Iraq, he became the head of national intelligence and then the prime minister. Iraq not only possesses colossal energy reserves – this country occupies an important geostrategic position, being at the epicenter of the events taking place in the region and being turned into an arena of confrontation for influence. The main players are the United States and Iran, but others (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, even Kuwait) are trying to influence the policy of Baghdad, and Israel is striving to become the main beneficiary. On September 24, a conference entitled “Peace and Reconstruction” was held in the capital of the Kurdish autonomy, Erbil. The event was organized by the New York-based Center for Peaceful Communications, which advocates the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries. The work was attended by about 300 people, including local politicians, tribal sheikhs from the provinces of Baghdad, Neynawa, Anbar, Babylon and Salah ed-Din, as well as leaders of a number of youth movements. In their final petition, they publicly called for a complete normalization of relations with Israel, following the example of the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco (until 2020 Israel had diplomatic relations only with Egypt and Jordan). The date was chosen well and the scandal turned out to be loud. The Iraqi government issued an angry statement of “strong rejection of these illegitimate meetings of people representing only themselves.” The government stressed that the concept of normalizing relations with the Jewish state is “constitutionally, legally and politically” unacceptable: “We want to reiterate our consistent historical position based on supporting the just cause of the Palestinians and protecting their right to an independent state with a capital in East Jerusalem.” The office of Iraqi President Barham Saleh said they “reject any attempts to establish relations with Israel.” Prominent populist politician Muqtada al-Sadr called the conference “a Zionist terrorist assembly” and called for the arrest of all its participants. Federal authorities also announced that “the investigating court of first instance has issued arrest warrants for three active participants in the conference, and legal action will be taken against the rest as soon as their full names become known.” Regarding the reaction in Erbil, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government said that the conference was held “without the knowledge and participation of the local authorities and in no way reflects their position.” It is difficult to say which is more here – guile or mockery? It is well known that the Kurdish autonomy and Israel maintain close ties in various fields and actively develop cooperation, and quite officially – suffice it to recall the visit to Tel Aviv of the Vice President and Minister of Agriculture of Iraqi Kurdistan in early 2013, and this is not an isolated case. … There are numerous followers of the theory that Jews and Kurds are the closest relatives from time immemorial. For example, this point of view is defended by Yu.R. Dasni, director of the Moscow Institute of Yezidi History and Religion. On October 3, when the noise subsided, Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Issavi Frey announced that Iraq was on track to become the next country to normalize its relations with Israel. The everyday phlegmatic statement of the Israeli minister is understandable – he knows that some Iraqi politicians, businessmen and federal journalists do not hesitate to have a secret relationship with Tel Aviv and expect to receive significant dividends. The interest of external forces in the development of the political situation in Iraq is obvious. A group of countries (USA, UK, West Germany, Canada, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand) issued a joint statement: “In response to the requests of the Iraqi people, significant resources have been mobilized in support of free and fair elections.” … It is noteworthy that back in May 2020 (that is, before the adoption of the new election law in Iraq), the UN Security Council expanded the mandate of the UN Mission in Iraq, adding the item “assistance in the conduct of elections.” The mission created a special structure that “is the largest of its kind in the world, with five times more UN staff than during the previous 2018 elections.” It is pertinent to recall that the first elections after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in January 2005 were concocted by a special group of only three dozen employees who applied the templates of the UN Political Department with the full support of the occupation administration. The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Janine Hennis-Plasschert, proudly reported that, in addition to this group, 800 UN observers arrived in the country in early October. “As a result of the technical assistance provided by the UN mission to the Iraqi CEC and related institutions, the elections will be very different,” she stressed “the technical aspect of the voting process.” The EU and the League of Arab States also sent a large number of international observers. Colorita added a report that the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovakia have donated about $ 334,000 to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for humanitarian demining activities in Iraq. Here it is worth citing quotes from statements by officials. For your information: the cost of demining one square kilometer exceeds 350 thousand dollars, so the allocated funds were actually used for PR of the mentioned countries. Let’s go back to the actual elections. In a country with an imposed democracy, they took place in conditions close to combat. External borders were completely closed, movement between provinces was limited, mass events were prohibited, all retail outlets were closed. To ensure security, more than 250 thousand military personnel, police officers and intelligence officers were involved, that is, almost the entire personnel of law enforcement agencies. There were no serious incidents, but the Iraqis joke gloomily about this: “Even the terrorists did not show any interest in the elections.” Despite the massive campaign of the organizers, the turnout turned out to be the lowest in the entire history of the parliamentary elections in the “new democratic Iraq” (this election is the fifth). Best of all, the situation is characterized by the phrase: “Voting against the background of despair and apathy.” Even such a well-known politician in the country as the former Prime Minister, leader of the National Alliance bloc Ayyad Allawi noted: Wednesday “. He noted that “eight to nine million Iraqis live abroad, plus internally displaced persons – ten to eleven million Iraqis are denied the right to vote!” and withdrew from the election race. Contrary to the assertions of the head of the UN mission in Iraq, the “technical component” of the voting process failed. The final press conference of the CEC, scheduled for noon on October 10, was repeatedly postponed and the published data on the turnout provoked objections from observers: “international missions are not sure that the final turnout is 44%.” The former head of the Iraqi electoral commission, Adel al-Lami, made a detailed address, in which he noted that the number of voters was about 9 million, that is, no more than 33.4% of the 26.9 million citizens of the country eligible to vote. In Baghdad, less than a third of registered voters voted at all. As a result, 41% agreed on the figure, but this is not the main thing. The movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, which was the first to condemn the elections, and then decided to participate in them and began to actively urge others to do so, received 73 mandates – 19 more than in the 2018 elections. The success is simply explained – the cleric’s campaign headquarters took into account that in 2021 those who did not see the era of Saddam Hussein received the right to vote for the first time. The younger generation grew up in conditions of constant violence and falling living standards, witnessed the civil war and squabbles of new political elites. It was they who became the object of interest of the sadrist agitators, and preferably in the most disadvantaged areas: there votes were simply bought, and inexpensively – for promises to help with food and clothing and to ensure safety. Election posters of sadrists in an area where people do not have basic conditions. Here M. al-Sadr sought and found the necessary support. Supporters of M. al-Sadr celebrate the victory An indisputable achievement of the Western planners is the crushing defeat of the radical Shiite pro-Iranian groups. The Fatah Alliance, previously the second largest bloc in parliament with 48 mandates, won only 14 seats. The leader of the bloc, Hadi al-Ameri, has already said: “We do not recognize these results and will appeal them,” and one of the most militant groups, Kyataib Hezbollah, called the elections “the biggest scam and robbery.” The State of Law coalition, led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, also oriented towards Tehran, won 37 seats (versus 25), but his announcements in August about his readiness to re-take the post of head of government cause unkind laughter among many Iraqis. However, the political blocs known for their close ties with Iran recovered from the shock rather quickly and began intensive consultations with the aim of forming an alliance. We are talking about who will head the government, and therefore the stakes are very high. The fight is just beginning. On October 14, Muqtada al-Sadr ordered the formation of a committee for negotiations with other political blocs and will try to promote his protege to the post of prime minister. In these conditions, the importance of those who can influence the desired result is sharply increasing, therefore special attention will now be paid to working with Sunni deputies who have passed to parliament, representatives of Kurdistan (32 mandates), as well as independent and representatives of previously unknown youth movements (for example, Imtidad “), which received a total of almost 40 seats. According to the results of the elections, the second place was taken by the Sunni Takaddum alliance led by the former Speaker of Parliament Mohammad al-Halbusi (41st place), however, not everything is cloudless here either: the pro-Turkish Sunni National Salvation Project movement failed, and its leader, also a former the speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujeifi, lost his parliamentary mandate altogether. It is worth recalling that only Shiites can take the post of prime minister in today’s Iraq, and this certainly adds intrigue. The triumph of democracy was the election of 97 women to the new parliament, which is 14 more than the allocated quota. This circumstance is enthusiastically sucked into the Western media, but they prefer not to mention that Khaled Sultan was elected MP in Mosul. His father, Colonel General Sultan Hashim Ahmed, was the last defense minister under Saddam Hussein and one of the regime’s key functionaries. An active participant in the Iran-Iraq war, the operation in Kuwait, repulsing the aggression in 1991 and 2003, he died last year in prison, where he spent 17 years: the puppet court sentenced him to death, but did not dare to carry out the sentence. The general was buried with all the honors in front of a huge crowd of people and it cannot be ruled out that the pendulum, having reached its extreme point, had already begun to move in the opposite direction. Cover photo: REUTERS / AlaaAl-Marjani

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