Preliminary Results Show Sadr ahead of Abadi in Iraq Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Preliminary Results Show Sadr ahead of Prime Minister Abadi in Iraq Elections

Monday, 14 May, 2018 – 11:00
Supporters of Marching Towards Reform list celebrate with portraits of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, after preliminary results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iraqis sprung a political surprise by voting for two electoral lists opposed to the current political class during Sunday’s parliamentary elections, showed preliminary results on Monday.

Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and a rival bloc of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) appeared to surge in surprise preliminary results from the country’s first poll since the defeat of the ISIS terrorist group.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who is the internationally favored incumbent, lagged behind after a vote hit by record abstentions.

The ballots of some 700,000 security personnel who voted and some one million Iraqis abroad were yet to be tallied up, meaning Abadi could get a boost five months after he announced victory over ISIS.

According to partial results seen by AFP, the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Sadr and his communist allies was ahead in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces and second in four others.

Next in the running is the Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters from the mainly Iran-backed PMF, with results putting them ahead in four provinces and second in eight others. The head of the list is Hadi al-Ameri, a long-time ally of Tehran.

Both Sadr and Ameri are long-time political veterans well-known to Iraqis, but they pitched themselves as seeking to sweep clean the country’s elite.

Sadr’s apparent victory does not mean his bloc could necessarily form the next government as whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government, expected to be formed within 90 days of the official results.

Turnout was 44.52 percent with 92 percent of votes counted, the Independent High Electoral Commission said – that was significantly lower than in previous elections. Full results are due to be officially announced later on Monday.

The commission did not announce how many seats each bloc had gained and said it would do so after announcing the results from the remaining provinces.

During the election campaign, frustrated Iraqis of all shades complained about their political elite’s systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption, saying they did not receive any benefits of their country’s oil wealth.

Iraq has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, with high unemployment, rife poverty, weak public institutions and bad services despite high oil revenues for many years. Endemic corruption has eaten at the government’s financial resources.

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Baghdad after the commission’s announcement, with thousands of Sadr’s supporters singing, chanting, dancing and setting off fireworks while carrying his picture and waving Iraqi flags.

Many of his supporters chanted “Iran out”.

Whoever wins the election will have to contend with the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s decision to quit Iran’s nuclear deal, a move Iraqis fear could turn their country into a theater of conflict between Washington and Tehran.

He will also face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against ISIS — with donors already pledging $30 billion (25 billion euros).

The results unexpectedly showed former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was touted as a serious challenger to Abadi, lagging behind.

Yazidis Accused of Executing Civilians in Nineveh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Yazidis Accused of Executing Civilians in Nineveh

Thursday, 28 December, 2017 – 12:30
AFP
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat

The US-based rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has accused Yazidi fighters in Iraq of forcibly kidnapping and killing 52 civilians from the Imteywit tribe earlier in June.

It said in a report on Wednesday that it has information from relatives of the victims that on June 4 Yazidi forces detained and then executed men, women and children from eight families from the Imteywit tribe.

The families were fleeing fighting between ISIS and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) west of Mosul.

Deputy Governor of Nineveh province Abdulrahman al-Luizi stressed that the massacre had taken place and called for holding the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. However, a Yazidi official from the PMF claimed that the dead were ISIS members.

Yazidi forces were also implicated in two other incidents of enforced disappearances of members of the Imteywit and Jahaysh tribes in late 2017, HRW said.

“Past atrocities against the Yazidis don’t give its armed forces a free pass to commit abuses against other groups, whatever their past,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

In early 2017, Yazidi fighters formed the Lalish Brigades and the Ezidkhan Brigades, units under the PMF, a force of the Iraqi prime minister, and therefore part of the state’s armed forces.

Two Yazidi community leaders told Human Rights Watch that the Ezidkhan Brigades were responsible for the abduction and killing of the 52 Imteywit tribe members.

Senior Yazidis have alleged that the Imteywit and Jahaysh tribes participated with ISIS in the executions and abuse of Yazidi men and women in August 2014.

Members of the two tribes denied these allegations, claiming the Yazidis were scapegoating them for ISIS atrocities.

“Few months before launching the operation to liberate Sinjar, a Yazidi militia linked to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) northern Sinjar region committed a crime,” Luizi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“After the liberation battles, which were overseen by the PMF in Sinjar and Tal Afar areas, a Yazidi faction, under the umbrella of the PMF, killed 52 people, including 27 women, 10 children and 15 men. They also kidnapped eight farmers from the Arab tribes in another incident and their fate is still unknown,” he further explained.