Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports, "Gunmen shot dead Faruq Zarzur Al Jubouri, a 45-year-old candidate loyal to Vice President Ayad Allawi, at his home in the town of Qayyarah, 70 kilometres from Mosul, the former ISIS bastion in northern Iraq. ARAB NEWS adds that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the assassination today. Sunday, AL MADA noted that there had been 15 assassination attempts on candidates this election cycle.
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." AFP explains that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women. THE SIASAT DAILY adds, of the nearly 7,000 candidates, "According to the electoral commission, only 20 percent of the candidates are newcomers." Ali Abdul-Hassan and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report, "Iraqi women account for 57 percent of Iraq’s population of over 37 million, according to the U.N. Development Program, and despite government efforts to address gender inequality, the situation for Iraqi women has declined steadily since 2003. According to the UNDP, one in every 10 Iraqi households is headed by a widow. In recent years, Iraqi women suffered further economic, social and political marginalization due to decades of wars, conflict, violence and sanctions." RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats. How do they elect the prime minister? This comes after the general election and is based on who won seats in the election. Abdulrahman al-Rashed (AL ARABIYA) explains, "To win the premiership, a candidate needs to win the majority of the votes, i.e. the votes of 165 MPs out of 329. Since it is a multi-party system, it is almost impossible to win these votes without sealing political alliances. The governorate of Baghdad is the most important one because it is the largest with 69 seats." The chief issues? Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies them as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption." Sunday, RUDAW explained that the electoral commission "so far fined 210 candidates for violations of commission guidelines."
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? The Middle East Insstitute's Fanar Haddad insists to Sammy Ketz (AFP) that the post of prime minister 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."
A new development this election cycle is the switch to electronic voting. Little thought has been given to securing the vote. And there are already efforts in place to manipulate the vote. RUDAW reports:
The Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee says it has received intelligence suggesting some political parties are trying to sabotage voting machines ahead of the May 12 election so that electronic voting is scrapped and replaced with the manual system.
The committee said these parties will sabotage the devices an hour before polling stations open so that the commission will have to count votes by hand. It called on the election commission and security forces to secure the devices.
Hakim Zamli, head of the committee, told Rudaw his colleagues have visited some Iraqi regions and found there is an agreement between the heads of polling stations and some unnamed political parties to sabotage electronic voting devices.
The committee has urged the election commission not to count the votes at polling stations where the devices do not work.
On the electronic voting, Omar Sattar (AL-MONITOR) reported last month:
Yet the supposed advantages of electronic vote counting and sorting have not prevented some of those on the country’s electoral lists from expressing anxieties about the new scheme. It is feared that Iraq’s lack of experience, capacity and modernization when it comes to such a system might bring the results into doubt and under dispute, especially among losing parties or those with fewer seats in the new parliament.
In a meeting with Al-Monitor, the vice president of Iraq’s Electoral Commission, Rizkar Haji, discussed the details of the electronic system. He said, “This system was prepared by the previous commission [whose members were replaced in November], which contracted with the South Korean company Miru [Systems] to import equipment for the electronic counting, as well as 40 Korean experts to implement and maintain the devices.”
He said voters this year will “use a special [rubber] stamp instead of the customary pen to indicate their chosen candidate or list, and the devices will only read this stamp.” He said the electronic counting and sorting system is integrated into a box that receives ballots "and sorts them immediately.”
As the election nears, more and more make their exact opinions known. Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani made remarks against corruption and gong backwards which have been rightly interpreted as remarks against former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.
Who does the US government want to win the elections? Gregory Aftandilian (ARAB WEEKLY) offers:
Although the United States has avoided publicly taking sides in Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary elections, Washington clearly hopes that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will prevail. Abadi has worked closely with US forces in helping to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) and is seen as the best hope among Shia politicians of keeping Iran’s influence at a minimum.
Every Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 US-led invasion has been a Shia. These prime ministers have often tried to refashion themselves into political figures who go beyond their sectarian base. For example, former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tried to create the persona of an Iraqi nationalist with his State of Law coalition. Shias and non-Shias alike have regarded them essentially as Shia politicians.
One of Maliki’s chief problems was that he so alienated and marginalised the Sunnis that many of them grew susceptible to the entreaties of ISIS, which helped it seize large parts of Iraq in the summer of 2014. The success of ISIS that summer led to Maliki’s political demise — at least temporarily.
Nouri's past is repeatedly noted in article after article. For example, AL-ARABIYA reports:
The Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has slammed former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for suggesting the formation of an absolute majority policy in the coming new government, in the wake of the awaited parliamentary elections due next week.
Since Nouri led the country to the brink, it's not surprising so many are noting his failures.
It's a shame they couldn't note these failures before but when the US government supports someone, the press falls in line. That would certainly explain Tamer el-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim's ridiculous claim for THE WASHINGTON POST that Hayder's going to be win big in Mosul -- he's going to sweep Mosul! Mosul? The city that remains in ruins after 'liberation'? Who are the sources? Excuse me, outside of the US State Dept, who are the sources?
Stupidity is in the air. Ronan Farrow's laughable WAR ON PEACE 'book' has earned praise from the usual crowd of non-readers such as Bill Maher. In the real world, a scan of any page is likely to result in discovering a serious error. For example, this is on page 61:
Critics argued that he benefited from events out of his control -- like al Qaeda leader Moqtada al-Sadr declaring a unilateral ceasefire.
Moqtada al-Sadr is not Sunni.
al Qaeda is a Sunni organization.
Moqtada al-Sadr is a Shi'ite cleric and movement leader.
At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website, Mehiyar Kathem writes:
Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is attempting to transform Iraq’s politics. Hailing from one of the country’s revered clerical families, the forty-four-year-old politician enjoys an enviable position as leader of Iraq’s Shia poor. The son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, the young leader came of age under the U.S. occupation and has become one of Iraq’s most important political figures. Championing antipoverty and secular-oriented politics, Sadr is regarded highly across a large swath of Iraqi society. Exposing the failures of Iraq’s sectarian political system and making calls for widespread reform, Sadr’s recent deliberations represent a shift from the sectarianism that has wracked the country. Politically influenced by common grievances, Sadr has positioned himself to challenge the vested interests of Iraq’s political elites. Now, Sadr is increasingly playing the role of national statesman by working to build national and regional alliances, particularly with Saudi Arabia, and has also reached out to secular and Sunni groups in Iraq. By tapping into a resurgent Iraqi nationalism, he is threatening the sectarian political order. The electoral coalition Sairoun, established to contest parliamentary elections in May this year, is composed of Sadr’s chosen candidates, the Iraqi Communist Party, and secular political activists. Sadr’s efforts to counter the Shia elite’s stranglehold over the Iraqi state and stem Iran’s encroaching influence in the country is consolidating his position in Iraq as an anti-establishment reformist figure.
Not since 2003 has there been such an opportunity for political reform. The defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the retaking of Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)–held territory by the central government, a strengthened national army, and improved relations with its Arab neighbors have contributed to a positive outlook for Iraq. Yet, while the country’s politics is changing, not much else has improved for Iraqis. The delivery of basic state services continues to be abysmal, and major frontline institutions have been hollowed out by years of endemic corruption. Iraq’s faltering infrastructure—which has not seen any notable progress—is unsettling Sadr’s base of Shia poor and the Iraqi population, whose social and economic conditions continue to be characterized by harrowing levels of impoverishment. According to the Iraqi government, 33 percent of Iraq’s poor do not have access to safe drinking water, and 29 percent of poor individuals aged ten years and over are illiterate. In what could be a key turning point, Sadr’s next steps may shed light on Iraq’s future.
While at The Century Foundation's website, Thanassis Cambanis writes:
In the fifteen years since the American invasion toppled Saddam Hussein from power, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has distinguished himself from other emerging Iraqi leaders with his endurance, iconoclasm, and unpredictability. He has cut a bedeviling and at times magnetic figure in his country, and he is one of the few sectarian leaders whose popularity has crossed sectarian lines.
Through war, flips of allegiances, involvement in corruption, and military victory and defeat, Sadr has managed to preserve his maverick image as a stubbornly independent man deeply committed to his principles, even as those principles shift over time. Now, with the May 12 Iraqi elections approaching, he is trying to parlay his reputation as a nationalist free-thinker into a movement that can transform Iraq’s political system.
In fact, Sadr has fashioned himself into an unlikely tribune of reform in Iraq. A persistent thorn in the side of foreign powers and Iraqi politicians alike, the graying forty-four-year-old is now trying to radically reshape his country’s politics. He has freshly renounced religious sectarianism, building an alliance with Communists and secular reform activists.1 He has attacked Iraq’s corrupt spoils system, with slogans such as “corruption is terrorism” that resonate with millions of disenchanted Iraqis. His unorthodox electoral campaign joins Shia partisans, Communist ideologues and some of Baghdad’s secular elite. Sadr’s popularity, hard power, and unifying message make him a direct threat to Iraq’s political class.
Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "First Slut" and "The Mother of all G-Men" and "The Scope of the Investigation" went up Sunday.