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.
There are still a couple of hurdles to be cleared: the parties have yet to agree on a candidate for prime minister and supporters of the Five Star Movement are voting in an online poll this weekend to approve or reject the agreement. Given that many Five Star voters come from the left and the League is far to the right, the outcome could be a surprise. But if the party leaders get their way, Europe’s fourth-largest economy will soon be governed by an anti-EU coalition.
There are two immediate challenges for the rest of the EU.
That Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who in 2003 made the deal to give up his weapons of mass destruction capabilities, was toppled in an uprising eight years later and killed by his captors is an important fact that has weighed on the minds of the North Koreans as they consider the fate of their own nuclear weapons program.
In light of this concern, Bolton’s comment has thrown into doubt the prospects of a much-anticipated summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald J. Trump in Singapore on June 12.
“Rather than an election, it is really an electoral event because we know who the winner will be on May 20,” said Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
“All the conditions leading up to the electoral event—including the barring of opposition candidates, the lack of international observation, the government control of the electoral council, the scare tactics imposed on the people—means that whatever the outcome is it will be the one chosen by the Maduro regime,” he added.
Namely, two elections in May bucked a growing authoritarian trend in Asia with strong electoral processes resulting in new governments to reinvigorate their countries.
A little over a year later that “ultimate deal” is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Trump administration appears to have further jeopardized its own prospects of brokering such a deal by relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and again failing to acknowledge the potential for Jerusalem to also be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
In April—just before the United States, France, and the United Kingdom launched airstrikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime—members of the Duma, retired generals, and analysts in Moscow were convinced that the United States and Russia would come to blows over Syria.
Even before the airstrikes, Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Gen. Valery Gerasimov announced in March that Russia would shoot down any US missiles fired at Syrian territory, and would target US aircraft and naval vessels if Russian forces were threatened.
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.