Is the U.S. Expecting Too Much Out of Iraq’s Elections?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, May 20, 2018 (Iraqi government photo via AP).
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, May 20, 2018 (Iraqi government photo via AP).
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To judge by much of the expert commentary so far, last week’s parliamentary elections in Iraq were a setback for the United States. The winning coalition, led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been viewed as anti-American—but also not quite pro-Iranian, given Sadr’s reinvention as an Iraqi nationalist. The affable incumbent, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, came in third, behind an explicitly pro-Iranian coalition. It usually takes Iraq many months of bargaining to actually form a new government. In the 2014 elections, it took about four months; in 2010, it took nearly nine months. So it isn’t yet clear who will […]

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