Iran has expressed its support of Iraq’s upcoming elections claiming that they will pave the way not only the rehabilitation of the country progression into the modernized international community. Bahram Qasimi, the Foreign Ministry of Iran’s spokesman, stated this week that the parliamentary electoral race was key to progressing democracy in Iraq. He said,

Due to Iraq’s important role in the region, there are various countries that can obstruct its development process, as we have seen during the previous years when ISIS supported by those countries dominated parts of it, but the terrorist group has been eliminated from the country through the sacrifices of the Iraqi people.”

A rather significant development as of late has a candidate who was running on behalf of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Coalition switching to the Kurdistan Diplomatic Party during the race. Candidate Sherko Abid Mohammed Ismael told press that,

I agreed to register my candidacy on Abadi’s list in order to serve my nation. How can I defend my nation when I see that the promises being made will not be fulfilled? That is why I thought it was essential to return to the party of my ancestors, the KDP … I believed I had to withdraw my candidacy from the Victory Alliance list. No one influenced me to make the decision I have.”

Iraqi parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on May 12 and it will be the first time Iraq has used electronic voting booths.

Iran has a vested interest in the elections especially in disputed areas such as Kirkuk where the Hashd al-Shaabi forces are in control as they are vastly supported and funded by Iran as well as the Iraqi government. Iraq began exporting oil from Kirkuk to Iran earlier this year, so there is a clear-cut economic interest in the region and seeing it become politically stable. The Islamic State has already conducted several attacks on security forces in Kirkuk over the past few months — since the city’s turnover last October. Recently the Islamic State has threatened to attack polling stations throughout the region.

Iran’s talk of democracy comes as protesters continue to flood the nation’s streets in opposition to the current regime and government. Many Iranian activists have been imprisoned for their efforts and feminist protesters continue to be persecuted as they push for equal rights in a country that adheres to a very strict set of laws. Whether the protests go anywhere remains to be seen.

Featured image courtesy of David Stanley [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons