Waiting for Iraq’s new leader to emerge
In Iraq, the government plays a big role, with the prime minister being the decision-maker, and Iraq itself is a strategically important country for the Middle East. People in the region and on the international stage are now waiting for the outcome of the consultations and bargaining between the competing forces to know the winning party following the elections and who will be prime minister.
Despite the victory of Muqtada Al-Sadr, leader of the Saeroon Alliance and winner of the largest number of seats, the results of the Iraqi elections have increased the ambiguity of an already ambiguous situation — though the victor has a majority, it is not the majority required to choose a prime minister under the Iraqi parliamentary system. Iraqis may have to wait for weeks before the announcement of the winner, and until then the situation remains open to all possibilities.
The importance of the period of Haider Abadi, the incumbent prime minister, is that it created a new national situation. Iraq went through a stage of weightlessness after the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, then an American stage, and down to a Nouri Al-Maliki dictatorship. There was no identity of the state and government until Abadi came to power. His government was weak as a result of the previous circumstances, yet he fought terrorism, prevented the secession of the Kurdistan region and stopped the disintegration of the country.
The victory of the Saeroon Alliance, which represents the Sadrist bloc, in the 7,000-candidate election, while pro-Iranian forces got the lowest number of votes, is evidence of the direction of the Iraqi people and their message that they are against Iran
Iraq, like all countries in the region, requires a strong political leader who stands against internal militias, political forces, pockets of extremism and terrorism on both the Sunni and Shiite sides, and above all has the courage to confront the Iranian project — the most important issue for Iraq’s present and future, and the most difficult of course.
The victory of the Saeroon Alliance, which represents the Sadrist bloc, in the 7,000-candidate election, while pro-Iranian forces got the lowest number of votes, is evidence of the direction of the Iraqi people and their message that they are against Iran. Not against Iran the neighbor, but against Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the Quds Force, the Popular Mobilization Forces, Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, and the rest of the militias planted by Soleimani during the last vacant period in Baghdad in order to control the country.
The results of the parliamentary elections came as a shock to Tehran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, had previously declared that Iran was against the Saeroon Alliance. But the alliance is pushing toward forming a coalition to achieve the figure needed to form a majority and a government.
The current phase is more important to Iraq than any other since Hussein. If the Iraqis succeed in forming a government that is approved by parliament, and which adopts a national program, we will witness an era that will resolve sensitive issues, such as the unity of Iraq, the strengthening of central authority, the dismantling of militias or their integration into the armed forces, and the beginning of a development project that would be the first since the 1980 Iran-Iraq War.
This makes the choice of a strong prime minister a popular demand and an important event, but is this possible with the difficulty of establishing a government that must be composed of several political forces?
Most of the consultations are taking place in the vicinity of the leader of the Saeroon Alliance, Al-Sadr, who is leading the political process after previously being a critic of it. He criticized the spread of corruption among the political class, criticized the weakness of national sentiment, and stood against sectarianism too.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed
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