According to reports from United States based observers, the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq were entirely “credible” and the claims of fraud heard from various political parties are unfounded. Heather Nauert, representative for the U.S. State Department, stated that, “The IHEC is investigating and taking a close look at fraud and intimidation. They have reported to us that they found the elections to be credible.” She added that multiple international observers and officials had been key to ensuring that the process was not tampered with. When questioned about Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani’s presence in Iraq during the transition period, she said that Iran and its effect “is always a concern of ours.”
Special Presidential Envoy for the United States, Brett McGurk, has met with Kurdish and Iraqi leaders about post-election allegations and conditions but a statement from his office about what was discussed during the meetings has not been released. Heather Nauert did clarify that the United States was maintaining a good standing in the region despite a few hiccups. She said, “We have a good relationship with the government of Iraq and we believe we will continue to do that …” Regarding the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq she said, “It’s notable that Iraq held elections free of violence … an amazing feat, a testament to the Iraqi people.”
The winner of the majority of parliamentary votes was a Shiite cleric named Muqtada al-Sadr, a man well-liked by the Iraqi community in general. He rallied supporters to his campaign by vowing to weed out corruption and aid the poorer communities. He held rallies in Baghdad for years prior to his recognition and built an army of supporters along the way. Nauert indicated that Sadr was not an identified candidate and stated, “Iraq is still finalizing election results and they are likely to have to form some kind of coalition government … congratulations to Iraq.”
Many Kurdish affiliated political parties have demanded recounts post-election under the claim of fraud. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has asked for a recount as well, specifically for the disputed territory of Kirkuk. Results will be released 15 days after the final election, at that time the parliamentary committee must convene for its first session where they will nominate and confirm a new house speaker. After this the new president will be chosen and he will delegate parliament to organize a new cabinet. Traditionally, the president has been Kurdish, the prime minister a Shiite, and the speaker a Sunni Arab.
Featured image courtesy of The White House from Washington, DC (Regional Media Day) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons