People vote in Iraq's provincial council elections at a polling station in Baghdad, Iraq, December 18, 2023.

Iraq's Pro-Iran Shia Coalition Wins Provincial Elections

Wednesday, 12/20/2023

Iraq's ruling Shia Coalition Framework (CF) has emerged triumphant in the recent provincial elections securing 101 out of 285 council seats in the December 18 vote.

The electoral success is seen as a strategic gain for Iran-aligned factions, consolidating their influence in anticipation of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2025. The CF's success solidifies its control over Iraq's influential provincial councils, responsible for appointing regional governors and allocating budgets for critical sectors such as health, transport, and education.

The top list of the Shia alliance, claiming 43 seats, includes significant Iran-aligned military-political groups like the Badr Organization and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. The second list, led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, secured 35 seats, while the third, with 23 seats, features moderate Shia leader Ammar al-Hakim and former Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. Together, these allied lists will hold a commanding total of 101 seats in the provincial assemblies, surpassing all other blocs.

The number of eligible voters in this election was reported to be less than 17 million people, with around six thousand candidates.

Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Iran has maintained significant involvement in Iraqi politics. Over a dozen Iraqi political parties are connected to Iran, receiving funding and training for paramilitary groups aligned with these parties. Some of these paramilitary groups, operating under the umbrella of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, have sworn allegiance to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Employing violence, the groups have sought to suppress opposition to Iranian influence and to push for the removal of the remaining US forces in Iraq.

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