In the wake of the suicide bombing that targeted Sadr City, east of Baghdad, on the eve of Eid al-Adha, Iraqi public opinion saw such incidents as “political messages,” which could “recur” until the elections are held in October.
Many agree that the upcoming poll is the most complex among all previous rounds since 2003, as difficult scenarios lie in the horizon, regardless of the winner, amid an intricate equation and an unprecedented political race.
But the main forces insist on holding the elections on time, driven by great enthusiasm to achieve a broad legislative presence, especially among the political wings representing the armed Shiite factions. Those see the upcoming elections as an opportunity to increase their influence in the legislative and executive authorities, as well as to end the mandate of their rival, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
Pro-Iranian Shiite leaders are discussing various propositions to deal with Kadhimi, whom they blame for obstructing the project of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
The Iraqi premier is aware that his role is limited on “holding the elections” on the agreed date, but he adopts a political approach that prevents the armed factions from taking over the state and its institutions.
Activists say that boycotting the elections aims to postpone them to another date in safer conditions, in an attempt to prevent the armed groups from seizing legislative seats. However, the decision appears to be nothing more than a message of protest rather than a practical step that would affect the path of the powerful forces.
The activists, who tried months ago to organize themselves for the elections, said that the armed groups intimidated their political representatives through liquidation and kidnapping, which prevented many from engaging freely in the electoral process.
But the turning point for the boycotters was when the leader of the Sadr movement decided to join them, when he stepped out of the race at a crucial moment, and turned the equation towards postponing the elections.
Sadr’s opponents see his boycott of the elections as a painful blow to their plans, and a strike to the equations they have set up months ago, which would not allow for major changes in the balance of power.
The danger of the upcoming elections lies in its results. The loss or victory of the two parties to the conflict will leave the country in front of new and persistent tension.
In the event that the political representatives of the armed factions win, an emerging social frontline will revive the protests, as it is not represented in Parliament. The loss of the armed factions, on the other hand, will increase tension and hamper the minimum level of calm between Shiite actors.