Saturday, April 21, 2018

21 days until elections in Iraq

Today, Sammy Ketz (AFP) insists, "An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating the Islamic State group are the three favourites vying for Iraq's premiership." He bases that conclusion on the Middle East Institute's Fanar Haddad who maintains the prime minister position will come down to one of three people: Hayder al-Abadi (current prime minister), Nouri al-Maliki (two time prime minister and forever thug) or Hadi al-Ameria "a leader of Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating IS. Ameri comes from Diyala province and is a statistics graduate from Baghdad University. He fled to Iran in 1980 after Saddam executed top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr. The 64-year old is widely viewed as Tehran's favoured candidate."

Unlike Sammy Ketz and/or AFP, this isn't the first time this year that Hadi al-Ameria's name has popped up in our Iraq election coverage.  Which might be why we can -- and repeatedly have -- noted his corruption scandal.  Most recently on April 6th:

ALSUMARIA reported today that the Badr Organization's Hadi al-Amiri stated they would eliminate corruption.  He stated that they would create needed jobs and punish those who had stolen Iraq's wealth.  Hadi is a militia thug and he's also one of the corrupt -- most infamously, he ordered a plane  to remain on the runway and wait for his spoiled son Mahdi to make the flight but the plane left Lebanon without Mahdi on board so al-Amiri, then-Minister of Transportation in Iraq, refused to allow the plane to land.  It caused quite an uproar -- as CNN noted in real time.

Corruption is one of the big issues for Iraqi voters so how do Ketz and AFP justify ignoring this?  About the only thing of interest in Ketz's report is this, "During Maliki's 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the interior ministry by an American veto."  Want to expand on that, Ketz?  Especially since the Iraqi Constitution doesn't not provide the United States government with veto power.

May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.  As noted in the April 3rd snapshot, pollster Dr. Munqith Dagher has utilized data on likely voters and predicts that Hayder al-Abadi's Al-Nasr will win 72 seats in the Parliament, al-Fath (the militias) will get 37 seats, Sa'eroon (Moqtada al-Sadr's new grouping) will get 27 seats, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law will get 19 seats, al-Salam will get 18 seats (KDP and PUK parties for the Kurds), Ayad Allawi's Wataniya will get 15 seats. There are others but Dagher did not predict double digits for any of the other seats. The number are similar for the group of those who are extremely likely to vote (Hayder's seats would jump from 72 to 79 seats).  Other predictions?

Not expecting anyone to win a majority in 's elections on May 12, 2018, says forming a government will therefore be a long, drawn-out process

AL MADA reports a Saturday summit took place among Sunni politicians.  Among those participating, Iraq's Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament Salem al-Jubouri, Minister of Planning Salman al-Jumaili and long term politician Saleh al-Mutlaq among others.  The meet up was about what happens after the election.   al-Nujaifi released a statement noting the need for a shared vision.  Saleh stated that the problems confronting Iraqi society and the various concerns require that they set aside difference and work for a common future.

In other election developments, a high profile defection has taken place.  The Talabani family heads the PUK -- a Kurdistan political party.  Until 2014, it was one of two major political  parties in the KRG.  However, that year saw the CIA-backed Goran Party take second place kicking the PUK into third place -- both behind the Barzani's KDP political party. 

Now a Talabani has left the PUK.  RUDAW reports Ala Talabani is running as part of the Baghdad Coalition -- a national entity -- and that she is no longer part of any political party.  The niece of former president Jalal Talabani states that PUK leaders -- including family member Hero Ibrahim Ahmed (her aunt) that she was no longer part of the PUK.  The falling out came when she backed removing Hoshyar Zebari as the Minister of Foreign Affairs following the discovery of his corruption and the vote in Parliament to remove him.  RUDAW notes:

Talabani said in her video message that PUK leaders tried to expel her from the party’s leadership but failed to get enough votes, at which point they made the decision to freeze her out. She added that she has asked the party to explain why they want her out, but has not yet been given an answer. This is the latest defection from the beleaguered PUK. Former second deputy leader Barham Salih is expected give the party some strong competition with his newly-formed Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ).  

The following community sites updated: