Test of Strength Between Sadr, Soleimani in Iraq
Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Sairoon coalition (Marching Towards Reform) is emerging as the winner in Iraq’s elections, invited Wednesday leaders of parliamentary blocs to meet ahead of forming a government of technocrats.
Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission confirmed the surge of the Sairoon - a coalition of Sadr’s supporters, some secularists, and the Iraqi Communist Party - from the country’s first poll since the defeat of ISIS.
The Commission announced Wednesday that Sadr’s alliance already took six of Iraq's 18 provinces, as the final results of last Saturday’s parliamentary elections will be announced on Thursday.
On Wednesday, although Sadr asserted his door was open to all parties, the Shi’ite leader singled out Hadi al-Ameri and former premier Nuri al-Maliki from any government alliance.
Prior to the elections, the Shi’ite leader said he was unwilling to offer any concessions to Iran or to form a coalition with Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organization or with Maliki.
Some observers consider al-Sadr’s position as mainly directed against Iran, while others believe it would be a test of strength between the two parties, particularly as Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander General Qassem Soleimani is in Baghdad for talks with his Shi’ite allies to salvage Tehran’s influence in the country.
Prior to the elections, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Tehran would not allow "liberals and communists" to rule Iraq, referring to Sadr's alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party and other secular groups.
However, the results of parliamentary elections have dealt a blow to Iran’s project.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi referred Wednesday members of the Independent High Electoral Commission to the Iraqi Commission of Integrity for not hiring a specialized company to examine and verify that the electronic counting and sorting devices are efficient before the elections.