Iraq Election’s results tests Iran influence in Baghdad

File photo showing Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr on his way to cast his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Najaf, Iraq, May 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 15 May 2018

Iraq Election’s results tests Iran influence in Baghdad

Baghdad: Already pressured by the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, an opponent who beat Tehran’s longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election.

But If Tehran overplays its hand by squeezing Sadr out of a coalition government dominated by its allies, it risks losing influence by provoking conflict between Iranian-backed Shiites and those loyal to Sadr.

Populist Sadr all but won Iraq’s parliamentary election by tapping into growing public resentment directed at Iran after what some voters say is a corrupt political elite that has failed to help the poor.

Al-Sadr block struck an alliance with the communist party and some civil Iraqi movements who joined forces in the last few years to protest corruption and lack of security in Iraq. Once the results were announced hundreds of Sadr supporters gathered and chanted slogans against corruption of Iraq’s political elite and Iran’s influence in the country.

But Iran is unlikely to relinquish influence in Iraq, its most important ally in the Middle East, and will push for a coalition that will preserve its interests.

For his part, Sadr has made clear he is unwilling to compromise with Iran by forming a coalition with its main allies, Hadi Al-Amiri, leader of the Badr militia groups, and former prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
After the election results were announced, he said he would only cooperate with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, with the Kurds and the Sunnis.

Iran has manipulated Iraqi politics in its favor in the past, notably following the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew its enemy, Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
In the 2010 election, Vice President Ayad Allawi’s group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was prevented from becoming prime minister. He blamed Tehran, for maneuvering Al-Maliki into power.

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 26 March 2019

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Arab states on Monday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Breaking decades of international consensus, Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.