Iraq

The checkered and turbulent past of the man best poised to take on the role of “kingmaker” in Iraq may return to impact his ability to form a government, and Iraq’s relationship with the United States.

The ethnically and politically diverse Alliance of Revolutionaries for Reform, led by prominent Iraqi political figure Muqtada al-Sadr, won the greatest number of seats in the May 12 Iraqi parliamentary elections on an anti-corruption, Iraq-first platform. Whether Sadr has the ability and desire to form a government committed to a better future for all Iraqi people, remains uncertain.

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Amid the uncertainty that has followed the Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 one thing is clear: formerly anti-US Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s list is the top vote-getter.

Sadr is trailed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri in second place and current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in third according to the unofficial results that are subject to change in the upcoming days.

Sadr, who formed the Mahdi Army in response to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, has since disbanded the group and transformed himself into a leading Shia politician.

In an interview with the New Atlanticist, Harith Hasan al-Qarawee, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, discussed the opportunities and challenges presented by the elections.

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The Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 are likely to be critical in their symbolism but far from definitive in their outcomes. Free and fair elections that lead to the peaceful political transition of members of the Council of Representatives—a process consistent with the 2005 Constitution—could help to solidify Iraqi democratic confidence. Nonetheless, how Iraqis vote is unlikely to clarify the political trajectory of the state.

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Iraqis will vote on May 12 in their first election since the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). With nearly 7,000 candidates vying for 329 seats in parliament, no single political alliance is expected to emerge with an outright majority. As a consequence, the days after the vote will be marked by desperate attempts to cobble together a ruling coalition.

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Iraqis will go to the polls for the first time in four years on May 12. The vote will determine Iraq’s next prime minister at a critical time for the country as it emerges from a three-year war with the Islamic State (ISIS).

Will the significant shifts in electoral lists bring about change for the country? Four experts share their views.

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Iraqi citizens will vote in their fourth parliamentary election on May 12th, 2018, since the 2003 US invasion to remove Saddam Hussein from power. There is an increase of cross-sectarian and pro-reform parties this election. Experts predict this will prevent a single coalition from winning an outright majority in parliament, and that alliances will likely be formed after elections in order to gain a majority and elect a prime minister.

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Iraq’s 2018 parliamentary elections, simultaneously embodying continuity and change, will be held in a particularly divisive atmosphere. The elections are taking place in the shadow of the devastation left behind by the conflict with ISIS and serious splits within the governing Shia party. As a result, voting on May 12 will be a litmus test for the mood of the country in the wake of a tumultuous few years.

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Supply teachers are not to be envied. While they may be highly qualified in a particular subject, they re often sent in to teach classes they are not familiar with and doing so without the necessary training.

Over the past several years, similar scenes have been repeating themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Western troops have been training local armed forces. While competent in combat, the military instructors have essentially been functioning like supply teachers: teaching without the necessary educational background, and only for a limited period of time.

Now the United States and the United Kingdom are addressing the issue: both countries are pioneering Teacher Corps. Other countries should follow their example.

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Both Iran and the United States have been pushing Iraq and the KRG to normalize their relationship, but Baghdad’s maximalist approach means the KRG is likely to hold out until after the May 2018 elections to make a deal.

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Following the 2005 election of Iraq’s National Assembly, the winning Shia Islamist coalition selected Ibrahim al-Jaafari, then a senior leader in the Dawa party, for the position of Prime Minister in the transitional government. Dawa is the oldest Shia Islamist party, but not the largest. Competing groups within the Shia alliance selected a member in the party for the position to sustain minimal unity, which was threatened by the fierce competition between the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Sadrist movement.

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