By Steve Dellar  |  05-14-2018   News
Photo credit: @WELT_Politik

Back in 2010 and 2011, the ‘Arab spring’ seemed to hail in a new era of open democracies in the Middle East. With revolutions brewing in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and Egypt, the future seemed bright for many young men and women brought up under autocratic rulers.

However, the first ‘free’ election in Egypt saw the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ rise up to power, and just two years later, the military intervened to take things back to where they were before.

In Iraq, the process of ‘democratization’ has been going on for much longer and the installer of the Iraqi government, mostly the US, therefore must have thought it was a good time to allow the Iraqi people to organize free and fair elections for all, in which they hoped their chosen Prime Minister, Mr Haider al-Abadi, would come out on top.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr takes an early lead in Iraq&#39;s national elections in partial returns, electoral commission announces.<a href="https://t.co/3lH8z3QJOM">https://t.co/3lH8z3QJOM</a></p>&mdash; The Associated Press (@AP) <a href="https://twitter.com/AP/status/995845406914465792?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Some 24 hours after Sunday’s election, the first results are coming out and they are disastrous to say the least for the US. The once designated ‘terrorist’ cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr holds a comfortable lead in most provinces as practically no one except for his supporters showed up to vote.

In second place in Bagdad, which holds the most electoral seats, sits a militia loyal to Iran. The US’s chosen Prime Minister Mr Haider al-Abadi is trailing way back in third place overall.

If this results comes true, it would mean that the radical cleric will have a say in who becomes the next Prime Minister in Iraq, which is an astonishing turn of events no one in Washington can truly be happy with.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr emerges in the lead in Iraqi election, leading the incumbent prime minister <a href="https://t.co/P0WRzorHYn">https://t.co/P0WRzorHYn</a></p>&mdash; Axios (@axios) <a href="https://twitter.com/axios/status/995845544365969410?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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As you may recall, Mr Muqtada al-Sadr has quite an eventful history when it comes to relations with Washington. His militia waged a brutal and costly insurgency against coalition troops back in 2003 after the US and UK invaded Iraq. Back then, the US leadership labeled him a "terrorist" and issued an arrest warrant for his arrest.

When US troops finally withdrew in 2012 Mr al-Sadr was still there, becoming the fiercest critic to the government of Prime Minister al-Abadi.

Today, it seems like he might just come out on top after all those years. No one in Washington dares to predict what comes next.

Source:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/13/iraq-election-shiite-cleric-sadr-584436

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