The results of the Iraqi parliamentary election on May 12 are beginning to emerge, with over 90 percent of votes counted. Candidates aligned with Muqtada al-Sadr, a militia leader who has recently adopted nationalist rhetoric against both the United States and Iran, appear to have won the largest bloc of seats. In an attempt to counter this development, General Qassem Soleimani, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is working to form an anti-U.S., pro-Iran coalition among the Shia parties.
This election, and the push from Iran and General Soleimani to influence Iraqi politics, comes on the heels of America’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, leaving Baghdad to wonder whether partnering with Tehran is in the country’s best interests. In the past, Soleimani has successfully worked with Mr. Sadr and others in Iraq to promote Iran’s interests, but the results of this election may suggest that this strategy is losing its effect.
On Tuesday, May 22, Hudson Institute hosted a panel to assess the political coalitions taking shape in Iraq and weigh the potential consequences of the election for Iraq, Iran, the U.S., and the region. The panel consisted of Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and currently the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute; Ahmad Khalid Majidyar, fellow and director of the Iran Observed Project at the Middle East Institute; Bilal Wahab, the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner fellow at The Washington Institute; and Michael Pregent, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. The panel was moderated by the Washington Correspondent for The National, Joyce Karam.