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#Iraq #Kurds #politics
Additional transformations were sparked by the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul and surrounds. Billions of dollars had been spent on the army only to see it collapse when confronted by ISIS who, in less than a month, were able to seize a third of Iraqi territory – including Mosul, Iraq’s second city – and threaten Baghdad. The immediate result of this military failure were accusations of the government’s sectarianism and corruption, forcing al-Maliki to step down as prime minister in favour of Haider al-Abadi. The popular reaction, however, was more radical with civil activists mobilizing in in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, demanding anti-corruption measures and the prosecution of corrupt officials. These protests expanded to most Iraqi governorates, became known as the “Civil Movement”, and were able to gather weekly protests of around 50,000 people. This was until Muqtada al-Sadr urged his followers to join the growing movement, which peaked when protestors broke into the well-fortified “Green Zone”, where government headquarters are located, and entered the parliament building.
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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
while sharing with them unprecedented indignation over the ruling class’ behaviour and the dramatic transformations following the 2014 elections which brought Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. <span>Additional transformations were sparked by the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul and surrounds. Billions of dollars had been spent on the army only to see it collapse when confronted by ISIS who, in less than a month, were able to seize a third of Iraqi territory – including Mosul, Iraq’s second city – and threaten Baghdad. The immediate result of this military failure were accusations of the government’s sectarianism and corruption, forcing al-Maliki to step down as prime minister in favour of Haider al-Abadi. The popular reaction, however, was more radical with civil activists mobilizing in in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, demanding anti-corruption measures and the prosecution of corrupt officials. These protests expanded to most Iraqi governorates, became known as the “Civil Movement”, and were able to gather weekly protests of around 50,000 people. This was until Muqtada al-Sadr urged his followers to join the growing movement, which peaked when protestors broke into the well-fortified “Green Zone”, where government headquarters are located, and entered the parliament building. This was the moment that catalyzed the founding of the Sairoon coalition, which many saw as a breakthrough in the Iraqi political system, although there are several indicators that this




#Iraq #Kurds #politics
However, if the political earthquake caused by ISIS has strengthened the position of those opposing the corruption and sectarianism of Shia Islamist rule since 2006, it has also generated a counter phenomenon that saw a sectarian Shia list place second to the Sairoon list by a difference of seven seats. This was the “al-Fath” list, which includes some of the most prominent former leaders of the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – though they have now officially disengaged from them, since both the Iraqi Constitution and electoral law prohibit engagement with armed forces in political activity.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
batting corruption and building a citizenship state”. Out of the fifty-four seats won by the Sairoon coalition, the Communist Party won two, whereas candidates from other civil lists won three. <span>However, if the political earthquake caused by ISIS has strengthened the position of those opposing the corruption and sectarianism of Shia Islamist rule since 2006, it has also generated a counter phenomenon that saw a sectarian Shia list place second to the Sairoon list by a difference of seven seats. This was the “al-Fath” list, which includes some of the most prominent former leaders of the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – though they have now officially disengaged from them, since both the Iraqi Constitution and electoral law prohibit engagement with armed forces in political activity. Following the army’s collapse against ISIS, the supreme Shia leader in Najaf, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on Iraqis to mobilize to fight ISIS. Soon, armed, non-regulated, mil




#Iraq #Shia #politics
Yet as a whole, Shia factions have not only preserved their parliamentary majority but have increased it from 153 to 187 seats. This is primarily due to changes taking place among Sunni communities.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
ve seen a reversal in the power relations between Shia factions. The most dramatic of these was the loss of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s list of 67 seats, mainly to the al-Fath list. <span>Yet as a whole, Shia factions have not only preserved their parliamentary majority but have increased it from 153 to 187 seats. This is primarily due to changes taking place among Sunni communities. Key Sunni political figures took part in the elections at a time when they were highly fragmented and weak. Sunni governorates have been the most exposed to ISIS terrorism and the ones




#Iraq #Kurds #politics

Where are the Kurds in all this?

The Kurdish political bloc has always been described as the “king maker” for forming government in Iraq. The two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, together with two Islamist movements, contest the elections under a unified list, which would guarantee them more than fifty seats. This is no longer the case, since the decision of the former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani to hold a referendum for independence from Iraq in October 2017, which resulted in the Kurds losing all of their gains over the last 15 years. In addition to Baghdad, both Turkey and Iran imposed embargoes on the Region, forcing it to relinquish control of its border crossings and airports to federal authorities. Federal government forces then reestablished control over disputed areas that Kurdish forces had spread across since the fall of the Saddam regime. This included Kirkuk’s oil-rich regions and parts of the Diyala governorate adjacent to Baghdad which Kurdish forces had gained control over while federal forces were fighting ISIS.

This collapse of cohesion within Kurdistan added to the wave of popular resentment against prevailing corruption in the region – exceeding that of the federal government – and against the deterioration of living standards of the population. This has seen increasing intensity in reciprocal accusations among parties as well as splits and new formations, with new parties entering the elections as independent.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
norate of Nineveh and why some Sunni politicians contested the elections under al-Abadi’s list rather than Sunni lists (e.g. “al-Qrar” (The Decision)and “al-Iraq Hawiyatna (Iraq Our Identity”). <span>Where are the Kurds in all this? The Kurdish political bloc has always been described as the “king maker” for forming government in Iraq. The two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, together with two Islamist movements, contest the elections under a unified list, which would guarantee them more than fifty seats. This is no longer the case, since the decision of the former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani to hold a referendum for independence from Iraq in October 2017, which resulted in the Kurds losing all of their gains over the last 15 years. In addition to Baghdad, both Turkey and Iran imposed embargoes on the Region, forcing it to relinquish control of its border crossings and airports to federal authorities. Federal government forces then reestablished control over disputed areas that Kurdish forces had spread across since the fall of the Saddam regime. This included Kirkuk’s oil-rich regions and parts of the Diyala governorate adjacent to Baghdad which Kurdish forces had gained control over while federal forces were fighting ISIS. This collapse of cohesion within Kurdistan added to the wave of popular resentment against prevailing corruption in the region – exceeding that of the federal government – and against the deterioration of living standards of the population. This has seen increasing intensity in reciprocal accusations among parties as well as splits and new formations, with new parties entering the elections as independent. Any analysis of current Kurdish parliamentary representation is risky as there is consensus among observers that the two major Kurdish parties were involved in large-scale and open elec




#Iraq #Shia #politics
The current elections, including pre-election stages, have revealed the beginnings of (at least non-Kurds) Iraqi society’s departure towards restoring an identity beyond sects and the centralized power of political forces based on how trusted their key figures are. However, it is so far hard to judge the level of trust in the programmes of these political parties, as all blocs competed in the elections with slogans revolving around ending the sectarian quota system, fighting corruption, and improving services. It is clear that Shia parties were aware of a rising tendency against sectarianism among voters, which led them to adopt non-religious labels.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
riotic Union of Kurdistan Founded by the late Jalal Talabani 18 21 -3 5.5 The Iraqi Decision Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, Sunni list 14 23 (Muttahidoon) (United) -9 3.1 Positive Indications <span>The current elections, including pre-election stages, have revealed the beginnings of (at least non-Kurds) Iraqi society’s departure towards restoring an identity beyond sects and the centralized power of political forces based on how trusted their key figures are. However, it is so far hard to judge the level of trust in the programmes of these political parties, as all blocs competed in the elections with slogans revolving around ending the sectarian quota system, fighting corruption, and improving services. It is clear that Shia parties were aware of a rising tendency against sectarianism among voters, which led them to adopt non-religious labels. The PMU named their representative list “al-Fath”, and Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, defected from the party – the foundation and function of which was




#Iraq #Shia #politics
The PMU named their representative list “al-Fath”, and Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, defected from the party – the foundation and function of which was linked to his family – and founded the “al-Hikmah National Movement”. The Dawa Party – in power since 2006 – could not form a unified election list because of the competition between its two key figures, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. As a result, an agreement was reached to not use the party’s name in the election campaign but enter the elections under two lists, al-Nasr under the leadership of al-Abadi and Dawlat al-Kanoon led by al-Maliki.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
stem, fighting corruption, and improving services. It is clear that Shia parties were aware of a rising tendency against sectarianism among voters, which led them to adopt non-religious labels. <span>The PMU named their representative list “al-Fath”, and Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, defected from the party – the foundation and function of which was linked to his family – and founded the “al-Hikmah National Movement”. The Dawa Party – in power since 2006 – could not form a unified election list because of the competition between its two key figures, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. As a result, an agreement was reached to not use the party’s name in the election campaign but enter the elections under two lists, al-Nasr under the leadership of al-Abadi and Dawlat al-Kanoon led by al-Maliki. This turn of events represented the expression of the start of the exhaustion of the Shia, as well as Sunni, sectarian discourse that had been deployed in public, with a Shia discourse




#Iraq #politics
Assuming that this will take place peacefully, Iraq will be, for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, facing the possibility of forming a government that is not under Iranian dominance, if the Sairoon, al-Nasr, and al-Wataniya blocs join forces. On the other hand, Iran-backed blocs, with al-Fath, the Dawlat al-Kanoon, and the two major Kurdish parties at the forefront are relentlessly working to be the largest bloc to be mandated to form a new government. Similarly, for the first time the parliament will include one ruling and one opposition coalition instead of the “national consensus” system that served as a pretext for fiefdoms distributed among different blocs. In all cases, it will be highly fortunate should a government be formed before the end of 2018.

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Iraq 2018 Elections: Between Sectarianism and the Nation | Arab Reform Initiative
past, starting from the results of the ballot recount and the potential for violence it carries if the results prove different from those announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission. <span>Assuming that this will take place peacefully, Iraq will be, for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, facing the possibility of forming a government that is not under Iranian dominance, if the Sairoon, al-Nasr, and al-Wataniya blocs join forces. On the other hand, Iran-backed blocs, with al-Fath, the Dawlat al-Kanoon, and the two major Kurdish parties at the forefront are relentlessly working to be the largest bloc to be mandated to form a new government. Similarly, for the first time the parliament will include one ruling and one opposition coalition instead of the “national consensus” system that served as a pretext for fiefdoms distributed among different blocs. In all cases, it will be highly fortunate should a government be formed before the end of 2018. [1] Lamya Shawi Hilali. [2] Majda Tamimi. Photos: Iraqis walk past campaign posters for the legislative election in Mosul, Iraq - May 2018 | © EPA Related Projects The 2018 Arab Electio