In Iraq, pro-Iran Shiite militias try to overcome electoral setback

Barely a few hundred fighters from Popular Mobilization (MP) units camp in front of the green zone of Baghdad. At the call of the leaders of the Shiite factions close to Iran, who form the hard core of this movement, they set up, on October 19, their tents at the gates of the ultra-secure area of ​​the Iraqi capital, to protest against the ” fraud “ in the legislative elections of October 10. The Al-Fatah coalition, their political showcase, suffered a stinging setback in this election, losing two-thirds of the forty-eight seats obtained in 2018. Its leaders refuse to accept the defeat they attribute to a “Scam” orchestrated by the government of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, with the support of Washington.

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In the ballot box as in the street, the political rise of pro-Iranian Shiite militia parties seems to be marking time. “The groups of mouqawama [l’axe de la résistance pro-iranien] have never been popular in Iraq, their base of support is limited. The 2018 poll was the exception: they took advantage of their role in the victory against ISIS ”, analyzes Hamdi Malik, associate researcher at the Washington Institute.

During the three years during which it was the second political force in Parliament and managed several ministries, the Al-Fatah coalition did not convince. Its managers “Have failed to provide public services. They are accused of large-scale corruption and their affiliation with Iran displeases many Iraqis, nationalists ”adds Mr. Malik. Their role in the repression of the anti-power protest movement, which appeared in October 2019 in Baghdad and the Shiite South, which left more than six hundred dead, condemned them in the eyes of the population.

Incendiary statements

This disaffection with the Shiite street was coupled with an electoral strategy doomed to failure. Since its formation in 2018, the Al-Fatih coalition has failed to overcome its divisions. The rivalry between its various leaders, as well as the armed factions within the MP, was exacerbated by the assassination by an American drone strike, in January 2020, of Iranian General Ghassem Soleimani and his lieutenant in Iraq, Abou Mahdi Al-Mohandes. These antagonisms resulted in a dispersion of candidates for the October legislative elections. In some constituencies, several lists from the Al-Fatah coalition thus found themselves in competition. Hezbollah brigades, the armed faction closest to Tehran, went it alone with their new party, Al-Houqouq (“the rights”).

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In Iraq, pro-Iran Shiite militias try to overcome electoral setback