Iraq: Key forces emerge after latest election

Iraq: Key forces emerge after latest election
3 min read
01 December, 2021
Iraq's parliamentary elections last month shuffled the key players, according to results released Tuesday
Iraq's preliminary election results were contested [Getty]

Iraq's parliamentary elections last month shuffled the key players, with the movement of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr taking nearly a fifth of seats, according to results released Tuesday.

Results have been sent to the federal court to be ratified, the country's Independent High Electoral Commission said on Wednesday.

The Sadrist movement did not win an absolute majority in the fragmented 329-seat legislature, so parties will have to form alliances.

Here is an overview of some of the most important figures.

Sadrist movement

Led by firebrand Sadr, the movement won 73 seats in parliament, expanding its haul from 54 in the outgoing parliament.

Sadr is the scion of an influential clerical family. He raised a rebellion after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and has now reinvented himself as a reform champion.

A self-styled defender against all forms of corruption, Sadr has distinguished himself from other top Shia figures by seeking distance from both Iranian and US influence.

Pro-Iran factions

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance parliamentary grouping, the political arm of the mostly Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), saw its representation plummet from 48 to 17 seats.

The alliance had made its debut in parliament following the last election in 2018, shortly after the PMF, formerly a paramilitary alliance, helped defeat the Islamic State group.

The alliance's leader Hadi al-Ameri also heads the Badr organisation, one of the PMF factions.

PMF leaders had earlier rejected the preliminary results as a "scam", and their supporters held street protests chanting "No to fraud". Protests in front of Baghdad's Green Zone early last month took a violent turn, with at least one person killed when demonstrators clashed with the security forces.

The alliance has consistently called for the expulsion of US troops from Iraq.

Another pro-Iran faction is the State of Law Alliance, an offshoot of the Dawa Party, both led by Nuri al-Maliki, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2014.

A surprise outcome for this PMF partner saw it strengthen its political base from 24 to 33 seats.

Independents

The all-new Alliance of State Forces brings together the groups of former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who led the fight against IS, and Ammar al-Hakim, who leads the moderates in the Shia camp.

With a meagre four seats, they have lost their clout, after having earned 42 and 19 seats respectively in the previous polls.

In addition, 43 candidates unaffiliated to political parties have been elected as "independents".

However, experts believe some may end up being co-opted by the major parties.

Sunni groups

The Taqaddum (Progress) movement, led by speaker of parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi, won 37 seats in parliament.

That makes it the second-largest force in the chamber.

He was elected speaker with the support of the pro-Iran blocs, but has cultivated relations with regional powers including the United Arab Emirates.

Taqaddum's main Sunni competitor is the Azm (Determination) movement of controversial politician Khamis al-Khanjar, who has been sanctioned by Washington amid accusations of corruption. Azm won 14 seats.

Anti-establishment players

Imtidad, a newly created party representing the protest movement that began in 2019, took nine seats.

The party presents itself as "a non-sectarian, anti-nationalist, anti-racist political movement, which seeks to build a civilian state".

It is popular in the city of Nasiriyah, the epicentre of the demonstrations in the poor Shia south.

The Kurds

Autonomous Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, has long been dominated by two parties.

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The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of the Barzani clan won 31 seats.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of the Talabani clan took 17, under the Coalition of Kurdistan banner.

Kurdish opposition party New Generation jumped from four to nine seats.

Gorran, an anti-corruption party established in 2009, lost all five of its seats. The party shot to meteoric success soon after it was founded, but fell into decline after the death of founding leader Nawshirwan Mustafa in 2017.