- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Political uncertainty and violence in first Iraqi election since U.S. withdraw
Al-Maliki re-election likely, but nation’s future uncertain
Question of the Day
Amid increasing violence by a resurgent al Qaeda, Iraqis will vote this week in the first parliamentary elections since the departure of U.S. troops in 2011 as the country edges closer to outright sectarian warfare and the government moves closer to Iran.
On Monday, militants thought to be Sunnis attacked polling stations across Iraq, where 22 million people have registered to vote. At least 46 people were killed in the attacks, the deadliest of which was a suicide bombing in a Kurdish town northeast of Baghdad and close to the Iranian border.
Army and police personnel cast ballots Monday, two days earlier than the civilian population.
More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections. Despite a surge in violence throughout Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law slate of candidates is expected to win a majority of the seats, propelling him to a third, four-year term in office.
But an outright majority is not expected, and Mr. al-Maliki likely will have to form a government with coalition partners.
“A lot has been attached to these elections for the past couple of years because Iraq’s politics have been witnessing a serious political gridlock,” said Sarhang Hamasaeed, a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “The hope is that these elections will bring new opportunities for the different political parties to work together and change the political dynamics in ways that will help the country go in a different direction.”
Forming a government is likely to be a protracted process resulting in a summer of political uncertainty.
Michael O’Hanlon, a researcher with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, is pessimistic about the prospects for change.
“A Maliki re-election is likely, and any repair of the ethnic tensions that have resurfaced over the past one to two years in force is unlikely,” said Mr. O’Hanlon. “I don’t find the elections all that uplifting, either in what the process itself is generating or in the probable outcome.”
Critics accuse Mr. al-Maliki of monopolizing power and alienating the minority Kurdish and Sunni communities. The prime minister says he has never overstepped the constitution.
Spurred in part by critics’ claims that Mr. al-Maliki, a Shiite, is transforming himself into a strongman, the Obama administration pressured the prime minister to hold elections on time. The issue was high on the agenda when Mr. al-Maliki visited Washington in November.
Mr. al-Maliki’s main Shiite rivals are Al-Muwatin, headed by the powerful cleric Ammar al-Hakim of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and Al-Ahrar, which is stocked with followers of the firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Like the Shiites, the minority Sunnis and Kurds also have not been able to field unified slates.
The three main Sunni slates — Mutahidoun, Al-Arabiya and Wataniya — are led by parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, respectively.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Boko Haram takes credit for abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls, threatens to sell them
- Al Qaeda core degraded, but 'more aggressive' affiliates still pose threat to U.S.
- Political uncertainty and violence in first Iraqi election since U.S. withdraw
- Egypt judge sentences 683 Islamists to death over Morsi-tied violence
- Doctor's killing in latest Afghanistan attack puts NGOs in crosshairs
TWT Video Picks
By Donald Lambro
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Bill Clinton audio surfaces from Sept. 10, 2001: 'I could have killed' Osama bin Laden
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Colorado poll shows women tuning out Democrats' 'war on women' strategy
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world