New Iraqi Government Unlikely to Cozy Up to Iran

May 18, 2018 | 18:11 GMT

A supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr holds up a picture of the Shiite leader as Iraqis celebrate in Baghdad on May 14, 2018.

A man holds up a picture of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr as Iraqis celebrate in Baghdad on May 14, 2018. An alliance run by al-Sadr appeared to be the winner of Iraq's May 12 parliamentary election.



  • The margins of victory among the competing electoral groups in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were extremely narrow, which will make the formation of a new government a volatile process in the coming months.
  • While the Shiite groups will have the most impact on government formation and policy, the Kurds and Sunnis will be critical allies as Shiite leaders try to build parliamentary blocs.
  • Iran's influence in Iraq is likely to remain strong even though its closest political allies saw disappointing results in the elections.

While the ramifications of the May 12 parliamentary elections in Iraq will take months to shake out, three key points are clear. In the first election since the military defeat of the Islamic State, no polling site was hit by a major attack and no major security incident was reported, marking a significant achievement for the country's security forces. Second, the margins of victory among the major alliances were narrower than ever, meaning tricky cross-sectarian coalition building awaits in the months ahead. Finally, and most importantly, the victory of the alliance run by nationalist Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr over a crowded Shiite field will push the next government to transcend sectarian politics, and al-Sadr's promises to fight corruption will force the government to act on this issue Also, al-Sadr's penchant for independence will not please the external powers attempting to influence Iraq, including the United States and Iran....

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