Iraq's national elections earlier this March were generally successful
Officials are still releasing vote counts, which currently
stand at about two-thirds of total ballots cast. The counts could
change but the contours of Iraq's new government are beginning to show.
With Iraqi democracy so young, the results also reveal key details about
the country's political character. Here are the politicians, parties
and movements who are being pushed out or pushed up by Iraqi voters.
Minister Maliki Voted Out? Current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
and his political party State of Law, which emphasizes security and
safety but has been marred by accusations of ties to Iran, isn't doing
well. It appears he could be edged out by Ayad Allawi, a secular Shia
with some support among Sunnis, who was Prime Minister in 2004 and 2005.
The New York Times' Anthony Shadid calls it "a
victory for a cross-sectarian alliance that hewed to a nationalist
line." Reuters' Ahmed Rasheed
asks of a possible Sunni-supported Allawi win, "Iraq's Sectarian Era
- Anti-American Sadr Party Sweeps The coalition
backed by Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who is in exile in Iran
after leading a bloody insurgency against the Americans, has been the
surprise winner in the elections. The New York Time's Anthony Shadid warns
that this "underscores a striking trend in Iraqi politics: a
collapse in support for many former exiles who collaborated with the
United States after the 2003 invasion." Shadid calls the Sadr movement
"martial," "populist" and "steadfast in opposition to any ties with the
United States." He predicts they will become the "wild card" in Iraqi
- What Sadr's Influence Means Spencer Ackerman lays it out: Political pressure for the U.S. to stick to its withdrawal schedule.
"It's important to distinguish the Sadrists from Sadr. Because whatever
you think of Sadr, the Sadrists are a pragmatic bunch," he writes.
"They entrench their ties to their people by the mundane but crucial
work of collecting garbage as much as turning the Health Ministry into a
torture chamber for Sunnis." The biggest immediate meaning for
Americans: "The Sadrist parliamentary rise will almost certainly
constrain Maliki from any impulse he might feel to renegotiate the
- Sunni Awakening Loses Big Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch notes that the
awakening movement of Sunni militias, who joined with Americans to help
restore Iraq from the brink of civil war, are faring poorly. "Leaders of
the Awakening may not have found a path to national political power
through the ballot box after all." Despite concerns that Awakening
leaders would resort to violence if shut out of government, Lynch says
their response so far has been fine. But their losses carry "one more
suggestion of the waning influence of the U.S."
- Good News For
U.S.--So Far The Washington
Post is cautiously optimistic. "Iraq's critical political transition
is so far going as well as could be expected, both for the country and
for the Obama administration," they write. "A government headed by
either Mr. Maliki or Mr. Allawi would offer the
Obama administration an opportunity to forge a vital strategic
relationship with Iraq even as U.S. troops depart in the next two
years." The U.S. should foster relationships with both men, but be
careful to interfere in Iraqi sovereignty.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.