Legislative elections in Iraq: the weight of parties close to Iran at the heart of the election

Legislative elections are held in Iraq on Sunday. In the country, Iran’s presence and influence are pervasive politically. But part of the population seems to be turning away from its neighbor to move towards more changes.

The Iraqis are called to the polls Sunday, October 10 for early legislative elections after the popular protest movement that shook the country in October 2019. One of the challenges of this election will be the weight of parties close to Iran. In 2018, they made a remarkable entry into the Iraqi parliament, thanks to the fight against Daesh, but the repression of popular protest in 2019 by their militias changed the situation for Tehran.

Between the election posters of parties close to Iran and the portraits of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, erected as a martyr after being killed by an American drone in Baghdad last year, it is difficult not to feel the omnipresence of Tehran in this Iraq in decline. For Ali, who does not hide his allegiance, Iran is Iraq’s only support, “the only country that helps us from a military or economic point of view”, he said. “As an Iraqi, I was disappointed with America and our Arab neighbors”, Ali adds. “Iran is helping us, but not for free”, Karrar shade, thirties. “Iran opened its warehouses, gave us weapons to free the country from terrorists. But the sacrifices and those who died are Iraqis,” notes Karrar, who also saw the pro-Iranian militias participate in the repression of the popular revolt in 2019.

For Kaoutar, “what must change is the end of corruption, the return of security and above all the end of the Shiite militias”. She would almost regret Saddam Hussein when the state is unable to bring them to heel. Dfor her part, the political scientist Marsin Alshamary explains that“There is growing disenchantment with Iran. A large part of public opinion has turned against this influence, even in the Shiite community,” she says.

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Extremely rare, the highest religious authority of this community even called on the Iraqis not to vote for parties linked to these paramilitary groups subservient to Iran. And it is the current of troublemaker Moqtada al-Sadr – an influential Shiite cleric whose list is considered favorites – that should benefit. He who fought the American occupation but who also rejects the Iranian stranglehold. A candidate who already wins Hussein’s membership: “I am going to vote for him because he rejects the outside forces who want to control our country. He always said it: ‘Neither the West nor Iran.'”

Listen to Aurélien Colly’s report here.

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