Antichrist gets to work to win over voters

Iraq election: candidates get to work to win over voters

Iraqis to choose from 3,249 politicians competing for 328 seats when polls open on October 10

With only weeks to go until a parliamentary election, Iraq’s politicians are not merely putting on their best smiles and making promises but also providing services the government was supposed to.

The election on October 10, the fifth since the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in 2003, is an important test for Iraq’s fledgling democracy amid widespread sentiment against its political elite. A mass protest movement that began in October 2019 forced a change of government last year and elections are to be held early under a new electoral law.

Since early morning we are here to pave the streets and install lights as we promised you.

Iraqis will cast their ballots to choose among 3,249 contenders for the 328 seats in Parliament. The new electoral law means independent candidates are standing for the first time. Out of about 25 million registered voters, slightly more than 23 million have updated their information to become eligible to take part.

Candidates are using every possible method to attract voters, from the traditional billboards and shaking of hands to sponsored advertisements on social media and holding rallies with speeches, song and poetry.

Some candidates are even paving streets, replacing electricity transformers and repairing or installing water treatment plants in rural areas at their own expense.

“Since early morning we are here to pave the streets and install lights as we promised you,” former MP Haider Al Mulla says in a video of him overseeing the work, posted on his Facebook page.

Mr Al Mulla is standing from Baghdad’s western Amiriyah neighbourhood and surrounding areas as a candidate of the Sunni Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Taqadum party.

For about three months now, he has been mingling with the people – playing backgammon in cafes, getting his haircut at local barbershops and attending funerals.

In another video, he is seen in hospital with a leukaemia patient in need of a bone-marrow transplant and promising his family to find him treatment in Iraq or abroad.

“Rest assured, the residents of Amiriyah are in my eyes,” he says.

Thousands of campaign posters and billboards dot the cities with promises of a better life and photos of candidates, including politicians blamed for the country’s woes.

“We will make it a state again,” the State of Law coalition promises in a billboard with the picture of its Shiite leader Nouri Al Maliki, the prime minister from 2006 to 2014.

The implicit promise is to strengthen the government’s hand in the face of challenges from the mainly Iran-backed Shiite militias whose influence has grown since taking part in the defeat of the Sunni extremist group ISIS in 2017.

The sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiites grew under Mr Al Maliki’s prime ministership. He is accused of authoritarianism and blamed for the rise of ISIS in Iraq in 2014.

A banner for a candidate is seen in Iraq’s second city of Mosul. Iraq’s elections will go ahead as planned on October 10, officials say. AFP 

The Fatah coalition, comprised mainly of politicians linked to the Shiite militias, has based its campaign on protecting Iraq from Sunni militants and pro-US elements in Iraq.

“We protect and build our Iraq,” says the Fatah slogan, with a portrait of its leader, Hadi Al Amiri, juxtaposed with its logo featuring a lion’s head.

Mr Al Amiri, who spent decades in Iran and enjoys close ties with its Revolutionary Guard, leads the influential Badr Organisation, one of the main state-sanctioned militias that fought ISIS.

Their rival, the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, is eyeing the premiership for his followers, saying his Sairoon alliance would secure a political majority in parliament and assume leadership of the next government.

“We will take it and never relinquish it,” a local poet told a political rally to launch its election campaign.

“We will be the biggest bloc and nominate whoever we want,” he told Mr Al Sadr’s cheering supporters. “The [next] prime minister will be from Mahdi Army,” he said, referring to the cleric’s militia, now renamed as Al Salam Brigades.

Mr Al Sadr is not standing for a seat himself but serves as spiritual leader to Sairoon, which won the most seats in the 2018 election.

The elections have been brought forward from May next year, the end of the current parliament’s four-year term, in response to the demand for an overhaul of Iraqi politics by protesters angered by corruption, high unemployment and a lack of government services.

Under the new electoral law, voters can cast ballots for individual candidates, rather than a party, and candidates can stand as independents.

Unlike previous elections, Iraq will be divided into 83 constituencies instead of being treated as one. The former system allotted seats to political parties based on their share of the national vote. Instead, the seats will go to the candidates who receive the most votes in each constituency.

The participation of independent candidates is visible in the presence of small posters put up among the larger ones of political parties.

“I have nominated myself for the sake of my country,” says Alaa Mahdi Al Zubaidi, a tribal sheikh, in a poster hanging from an electricity pole in Baghdad’s Jabiriyah district. Not far away, another poster simply lists the name of the candidate, Zainab Essam Al Tukmachi, and urges young people to vote for her.

Instances of the public tearing up posters or setting them on fire have prompted the authorities to threaten arrests.

Many Iraqis are not convinced by the electoral promises, a sentiment reflected in posts by the popular blogger Mufeed Abass, who writes about Iraqi politics and daily life.

“Whenever I gaze at the candidates’ faces in the posters, I feel the laugh they try to hide,” he wrote on Facebook.

“As if they are saying: ‘I will become a parliament member, get a multimillion salary, secure jobs for my brothers and relatives, get commissions and change all my phone numbers.

“Some are not hiding their laugh because they have already laughed at us and will continue laughing for the rest of the democratic age in Iraq.

“Laughers, the day will come when you will cry.”

Updated: September 14th 2021, 1:52 AM

The Antichrist calls for facts around Imam Musa Al-Sadr absence

Muqtada al-Sadr calls for facts around Imam Musa Al-Sadr absence

News Code : 1179174

The head of the Sadr Movement of Iraq Muqtada al-Sadr called for the formation of a committee to reveal the facts about the absence of Sayyed Imam Musa al-Sadr.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The head of the Sadr Movement of Iraq Muqtada al-Sadr called for the formation of a committee to reveal the facts about the absence of Sayyed Imam Musa al-Sadr.

“So that his case does not perish, I find that a humanitarian committee to be formed to reveal the facts around the disappearance of the Islamic leader, Sayyed Musa al-Sadr. This committee represents us in this, with full authority to investigate and reveal facts inside Iraq and abroad, hoping that all countries related to this issue, as well as all the people concerned with it, to cooperate mentally, legally and humanely,” said al-Sadr in posting via his official account on Twitter.

According to Iraqi News Agency, Al-Sadr singled out mentioning Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, as well as Qatar, stressing that “this is not an accusation, but rather a request for cooperation, thankfully,”

……………………………
End/ 257

The Antichrist: Iraq’s controversial cleric

Muqtada al-Sadr: Iraq’s controversial cleric

A+ A-BAGHDAD – In late August, influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in a characteristic about-face, announced his Sadrist movement would contest Iraq’s parliamentary elections, a month and a half after he had declared he would not run and withdrew his support for the government. 

The reason Sadr gave for his change of mind is a “reform paper” he received from several leaders he said he trusts. The promises made inspired in him hope for the possibility of ridding Iraq of corruption. “It came in line with the desires of the Iraqi people in achieving reform,” Sadr said

A member of Sadr’s Sairoon parliamentary bloc, Alaa al-Yasiri, told Rudaw on August 29 that measures outlined in the reform paper included ways to combat fraud in the elections, such as controlling campaign financing. It also included legislation of the Oil and Gas Law, which seeks to end “the dispute between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government.” The law has been pending since 2005 and every election, parties promise to vote on it, but it’s been stymied by debates over amendments. 

How Sadr became a phenomenon

The Sadrist Movement was formed after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. As a populist party, it has a large public base, a private army, and a dominant influence over public life. 

“The Sadrist social base consists mainly of the poor and marginalized who come from the social classes that are less educated and influential in society,” said political analyst Rustam Mahmoud writing for Independent Arabia. 

Sadr supporters living on the margins of society are searching for “political paternity,” said Mahmoud, and have found it in the Sadr family, especially in Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, the father of Muqtada.

The elder Sadr was a popular figure who cultivated support by commiserating with the people’s grievances, which were doubled during the rule of the Ba’ath Party. His assassination at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime inflated his sacred status among his supporters.

Muqtada al-Sadr has tried to continue his father’s legacy and the movement has grown in popularity, aided by Sadr’s rhetoric that combines of simplicity and directness with populism.

He is known for his hostility to United States presence in Iraq and he was one of the first to say that “resisting the occupier is a duty.” He formed the Mahdi Army in 2003, a militia that targeted US military convoys, but was also involved in sectarian crimes against the Sunni community in Baghdad. Sadr did not deny these accusations and disbanded the Mahdi Army in 2008, though from time-to-time he threatens to revive the force.

Sadr has a second armed force, the Peace Brigades (Saraya al-Salam in Arabic), which was formed in 2014 in response to the rise of the Islamic State group (ISIS) and is a part of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic).

The Sadr movement is one of the Islamic parties that control the country’s institutions and wealth, yet it has rocky relationships with most of its political peers and Shiite establishment.

In 2003, Sadr was accused of the assassination of a prominent Shiite cleric in Najaf, Abdul Majeed al-Khoei. This was the beginning of the confrontation between Sadr and the Shiite religious authority in Iraq, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The US issued an arrest warrant for Sadr, but it was never carried out. 

Sadr followers also have disputes with the Dawa Party and its leaders, especially former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is affiliated with the Hakim family.

Sadr and reform

In 2015, civil society activists and some political parties, most notably the Iraqi Communist Party, called for massive demonstrations in Baghdad, condemning corruption and demanding major reforms. The momentum of these demonstrations increased after the Sadr movement joined them. That was the beginning of a rapprochement between the two sides and it led to a political alliance called Sairoon, which ran in the 2018 elections and won the most seats in the parliament.

Sadr supporters stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone several times in 2016, under their leader’s guidance, demanding former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi form a technocratic government. In September 2016, Sadr called on public sector employees to strike and put pressure on authorities to implement the demands of demonstrators.

In February 2017, Sadr called on the United Nations to protect demonstrators, accusing Iraqi forces of using “excessive force” against them. He continued supporting protests until 2019.

Collapse of the Sairoon alliance

In October 2019, another wave of demonstrations stormed Baghdad and southern provinces. The Communist Party declared its full support for the protests and participated in them and Sadr sent his supporters, known as the “blue hats” to protect demonstrators in the squares of Baghdad, Najaf and Nasiriya. 

But within weeks, Sadr’s position changed and the blue hats began attacking protesters, killing and injuring hundreds. This was the beginning of the end of the coalition between Sadr and the Communists.

On October 30, 2019, members of the Communist Party affiliated with the Sairoon Alliance resigned from parliament. In December 2020, Sadr said that the Communists were “traitors.” 

“We are the first to establish cooperation of Islamic civil society through political and electoral cooperation with civilians and communists, and how quickly they betray us and declare their hostility to us to this day,” Sadr tweeted

Upcoming elections

Sadr himself has never run for elected office, but he has been involved in the political scene since 2005 and his party is a current partner in the sectarian quota system. The movement secured 30 – 40 seats in each parliamentary election between 2006 and 2014. And it had no fewer than ten ministers between 2010 and 2014.

It has 90 candidates across Iraq competing in the October vote and is confident of victory, Sadrist member Hassan Faleh said in an interview with Rudaw.  

“The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage,” Faleh said.

20 years after 9/11, more vulnerable than ever

20 years after 9/11, region still a target, too vulnerable

Is there any thinking person out there who does not know that southeastern Connecticut is at risk of possible terrorist attacks by insane countries or coalitions, likely to form destructive plans for targeted American places? The Gold Star Bridge, destroyed, would block the channel for submarines, rendering the Groton base useless, then destroyed, not to mention the I-95 corridor crippled.

The Coast Guard Academy, Homeland Security Station, General Dynamics, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Millstone Power Station could all be potential targets for destruction. It was President Reagan who wanted to build, “Star Wars” weaponry, launched into outer space, outfitted with lasers, to destroy nuclear weapons, preventing any country’s weaponry from targeting anything American at will.

President Trump formed the Space Corps as a military branch, conducting Homeland Security from outer space. Yes, the United States, Russia and China have these weapons. Such dastardly attacks mentioned above may happen, especially post-war strikes, in America, since the 20-year war just ended was not winnable from the start.

Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Maybe we should use such defensive tactics before it is too late! Remember it was 9/11 that started this. Just some realistic food for thought.

Cynthia Gunn Lazuk

Lisbon

The Antichrist’s plans will continue: Revelation 13

Iraq officials vow election will take place on time despite sabotage attempts

Ballot is expected to take place on October 10 as government says it will uphold promise to public

Iraq’s elections will be held as planned on October 10 despite attempts to sabotage the vote, officials and experts told The National.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, who took office in May 2020, promised early elections under pressure from anti-government protesters who took their anger and frustration to the streets in late-2019.

But he said his government had recently thwarted several attempts to fix the parliamentary election.

The government is also fighting attempts to delay the poll from some factions in parliament.

Iraq’s powerful populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr recently pedalled back on a call to boycott the elections and said his movement would take part to help “end corruption”.

Mr Al Sadr commands millions of followers in Iraq, leading the parliamentary bloc with the biggest number of seats. He portrays himself as a nationalist fighting for the benefit of his country.

His change of heart was not enough to contain calls to delay the election. A flurry of meetings have been held between different political parties in recent weeks to consider a delay, said Renad Mansour, a senior research fellow and project director of the Iraq Initiative at London’s Chatham House think tank.

However, a “decision has been made for the elections to be held on time, and although it’s not 100 per cent officially confirmed, those initial attempts to delay have been put away,” he told The National.

“It was the Sadrists who didn’t want to participate and wanted to delay the elections. However, Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani’s office and international actors were pushing for elections to be held on time,” Mr Mansour said.

Fanar Haddad, a former senior adviser to Mr Al Kadhimi, told The National “there is enough buy-in from most major political actors and enough momentum to make another delay very unlikely.”

“Election campaigns have begun and money is being spent,” he said.

Diplomats also expressed hope the elections would go ahead.

“I do think elections will be held on time. All the key political parties are now on board and there is no reason to delay,” a Western diplomat told The National.

“As the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General [Jeanine Antoinette Plasschaert] had said, the political parties themselves have a role to ensure the process goes well,” the diplomat said.

Low voter turnout due to voter apathy

Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003.

“The new generation of youth, who are less part of the social basis of political parties, don’t really see the point in voting,” Mr Mansour said.

“They don’t believe those political parties represent their interests or basic needs,” he said.

Many Iraqis have lost faith in the ability of elections to deliver change

Fanar Haddad

There is a sense of dissolution in the Iraqi capital with the political process and voting.

To the Iraqi youth this election symbolises the vote for the “same cast of characters and political parties that for almost 20 years have not been able to deliver on basic governance and accountability,” he said.

Mr Haddad said voter apathy remains a significant problem in Iraq.

“This will be post-2003 Iraq’s sixth election. Many Iraqis have lost faith in the ability of elections to deliver change,” Mr Haddad said.

“Low turnout will of course create a self-fulfilling prophecy in that it benefits the existing political elite and ensures the continuation of the status quo,” he said.

However, improvements have been seen in the voting process that includes a new election law and active engagement by the electoral commission, said the Western diplomat.

“This is a more robust and improved process but people need to be persuaded of that if they are to turn out and vote,” he said.

Updated: September 7th 2021, 7:33 AM

Antichrist movement launches mobile application to guide followers in election

Sadrist movement launches mobile application to guide followers in election

A+ A-ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s Sadrist movement has launched a mobile application to guide followers through the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections in October.

The application titled “Altayar” was launched by the popular movement led by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to aid supporters with navigating the new electoral system and provide information about their constituencies.

The application asks for access to the user’s location and provides information on the correct polling station supporters must go to, the required documents to bring, as well as the name of the Sadrist candidate registered for that specific constituency.

Sadr in July had announced he was withdrawing from the election and pulling his support for the current and upcoming governments. “In order to preserve what is left of the nation and to save the nation that has been burnt by the corrupt and is still burning, I inform you that I will not be participating in the elections,” he said in a televised speech.

However, late last month, Sadr reversed his decision and said he will contest the elections “with determination.”

Sadr leads the Sairoon coalition, the largest parliamentary bloc, and is known for swift shifts in his positions. He was among the first to speak up in January when the election was moved from June 6 to October 10, saying he would not accept any further delay. Sadr himself does not hold an elected position, but as leader of Sairoon, he wields heavy influence when it comes to government formation and agenda.

Iraqis will go to the polls on October 10, a year ahead of schedule. The election was called to meet a demand of protesters who brought down the government of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. However, interest in the vote is low. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate. All sides are questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud.

There are a total of 3,249 candidates vying for 329 seats in the parliament. The official campaign period began on July 8, but has so far been lackluster.

The new electoral system of Iraq was signed by President Barham Salih in November into law, dividing provinces into smaller voting constituencies.

There are three to five seats up for grabs in each constituency, with a woman quota seat per constituency.

UN envoy to Iraq says effort underway to stop the Antichrist

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018 file photo, Iraqi Kurdish women cast their ballots during parliamentary elections in Irbil, Iraq. With the help of the United Nations, authorities in Iraq are taking measures to prevent voter fraud in national elections in October 2021. The U.N. envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 while speaking to reporters in Baghdad, that Iraqi political parties and candidates must abstain from intimidation, voter suppression and bribes to ensure the federal elections are free and fair.
FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2018 file photo, Iraqi Kurdish women cast their ballots during parliamentary elections in Irbil, Iraq. With the help of the United Nations, authorities in Iraq are taking measures to prevent voter fraud in national elections in October 2021. The U.N. envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 while speaking to reporters in Baghdad, that Iraqi political parties and candidates must abstain from intimidation, voter suppression and bribes to ensure the federal elections are free and fair.Uncredited/AP

UN envoy to Iraq says effort underway to prevent voter fraud

SAMYA KULLAB , Associated Press Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 10:11 a.m. Comments

BAGHDAD (AP) — With the help of the United Nations, authorities in Iraq are taking measures to prevent voter fraud in national elections next month, the U.N. envoy to Iraq said Tuesday.

However, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that Iraqi political parties and candidates must abstain from intimidation, voter suppression and bribes to ensure the October federal elections are free and fair.

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Hennis-Plasschaert outlined efforts by Iraqi electoral authorities, with technical assistance from the U.N., to close loopholes from the past that have undermined public trust in Iraq’s electoral process.

The 2018 elections saw a record low turnout with just 44% of eligible voters casting ballots. The results were widely contested.

Iraq has requested U.N. monitoring on election day — Oct. 10 — and the U.N. is also helping Iraq’s High Electoral Commission, the official body that oversees polls.

Hennis Plasschaert underlined that the running of next month’s polls will be very different from 2018 due to new strict measures. An independent audit firm will keep tabs on how votes are counted, she said.

To prevent fraud, provisional results will be shown at polls throughout the country. In the past, these were announced once the ballots had been transported and counted at the commission’s headquarters.

There will also be 130 international experts monitoring the polls, along with 600 support staff. To prevent abuse of electronic voter cards, they will be disabled for 72 hours after a person votes to avoid double voting, she said.

Next month’s vote is being held a year in advance, in line with a promise made by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he assumed office in 2020 to appease anti-government protesters.

Uncertainty emerged whether the polls would be held on time after influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he would contest them. But he has since reversed that decision.

The elections are also being held under a new, reformed electoral law that divides Iraq into 83 constituencies, instead of just 18.

“Voters will vote for individuals, not just parties,” Hennis-Plasschaert said. “There is no place for any impropriety and that includes pressuring individuals to vote for specific candidates.”

She offered examples of the pressuring — including the withholding of salaries, buying and selling votes and intimidation of voters through threats of violence and blackmail. In a first, mobile phones and cameras “will not be allowed inside voting booths,” she said.

She also urged Iraqis, especially the disillusioned youth who make up 60% of the population, to vote and warned against boycotting the election.

“Boycotting elections will not solve anything. On the contrary, if you don’t vote, you end up boosting those whose positions you may oppose,” she said.

Antichrist Says Iraqis ‘mistrust’ political blocs ahead of elections

Iraqis ‘mistrust’ political blocs ahead of elections: Sadrist

A+ A-ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi people’s general attitude toward the elections has turned “cold”, a prominent member of the Sadrist movement told Rudaw on Thursday, as parliamentary elections approach.

The public “mistrusts political blocs,” Issam Hussein, a popular Sadrist commentator, told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi, “especially with the behavior of the political blocs in the past 18 years.”

The situation for people in central and southern Iraq is dire, according to Hussein, noting that there are few job opportunities in the areas, leading people to migrate to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad for work. 

“It is believed that such citizens don’t have the will to head to the ballot boxes,” he added.

Iraqis will go to the polls on October 10, a year ahead of schedule. Early elections were called to meet a demand of protesters who brought down the government of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in 2019. However, interest in the vote is currently low.

Protesters have in recent months called for a boycott of the elections, questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate, citing similar reasons. 

Public sentiment toward the upcoming elections also seems to be wavering.

“I will not participate in the elections. I don’t see anyone qualified for it,” a passerby in Baghdad told Rudaw’s Halkawt Aziz. “It’s the same people, even if their faces are new.”

Other locals say they don’t have any hope that elections will change their circumstances.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, last week reversed an earlier call for his politicians to withdraw from elections, saying they will contest the elections with “determination.”

There are a total of 3,249 candidates vying for 329 seats in the parliament. The official campaign period began on July 8 but has so far been lackluster.

Iraq government thinks it has foiled Antichrist’s attempts to rig forthcoming elections

Iraq government says it has foiled attempts to rig forthcoming elections

Iraqis are set to head to the polls on October 10, after vote brought forward following 2019 protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has said his government has thwarted several attempts to fix the parliamentary election being held next month.

“The security services carried out a pre-emptive operation in which they thwarted an attempt to rig the elections by putting pressure on a number of election commission employees, with the aim of mixing political cards and creating chaos,” Mr Al Kadhimi’s office said.

It said Iraqi security services arrested several suspects believed to be part of a group that attempted to interfere with the electoral process.

Local media reports said the intelligence services detained a former member of the electoral commission, Miqdad Al Sharifi, over alleged fraud in previous elections.

Iraq’s general election was due to be held in May next year but has been brought forward to October 10 in response to the demands of a mass protest movement that broke out in October 2019.

Protesters called for changes to the country’s election law, which Parliament passed in late 2019. 

The new law allows voters to elect individual politicians instead of choosing from party lists, and have each member of Parliament represent a specific electoral district, instead of groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

Iraq has a population of 40 million across 18 provinces. Turnout for the country’s last parliamentary election held in 2018 was 44.5 per cent, amid electoral fraud claims. 

The one million Iraqi citizens living abroad will be excluded from voting.

Mr Al Kadhimi promised to address the demands of the protesters when he took office in May last year, after months of political turmoil.

The youth-led protest movement was triggered by anger over endemic corruption, high unemployment, foreign interference and poor public services.

Mr Al Kadhimi also promised to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of hundreds of protesters who took to the streets in Baghdad and many southern cities, although no one has been charged.

The populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, leader of the largest bloc in Parliament, last week reversed his decision that he and his supporters would not take part in the polls.

Mr Al Sadr’s Sairoon bloc, part of a ruling coalition, is expected to be one of the frontrunners in the election.

A number of political leaders had written to Mr Al Sadr about drafting a “charter for reform” to rid Iraq of corruption and mismanagement.

The cleric, who has a widespread following, urged his supporters to go to the polls and vote in the election. A vote for his movement, he said, would mean an Iraq “liberated from foreign interference and corruption”.

“We will enter these elections with vigour and determination, in order to save Iraq from occupation and corruption,” he said.

Mr Sadr, who commands a loyal following of millions of Iraqis, is one of the most powerful political leaders in Iraq and has grown his influence over state institutions in recent years.

His loyalists hold official posts with control of a large portion of the country’s wealth and patronage networks.

Updated: September 3rd 2021, 7:16 AM

Iraq PM tries to stop Antichrist’s attempt to rig elections

Iraq
A man walks past shuttered shops in the Zanjili neighbourhood of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul on March 19, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Iraq thwarts attempt to rig elections, says PM Al Kadhimi

Published:  September 02, 2021 04:43

Suspects arrested following pre-emptive security operation

Abu Dhabi: With over a month until Iraq goes to the polls, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said on Wednesday attempts to rig the early parliamentary elections were foiled.

The revelation comes amid speculation and media leaks that the intelligence service had arrested former Electoral Commission member Miqdad Al Sharifi on accusations of involvement in fraud in previous elections, local media reported.

Official authorities did not issue any confirmation.

“The security services carried out a preemptive operation in which they thwarted an attempt to rig the elections by putting pressure on a number of election commission employees, with the aim of mixing political cards and creating chaos,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The statement added that the security services arrested a number of suspects as part of a group that tried to rig the elections.

The suspects worked by investing their relations with employees of the Electoral Commission, with the aim of provoking political chaos in Iraq, through a social media network, including a site called “The Green Lady.”

This site recently appeared and published news and scandals about some political blocs and figures.

The statement said: “The government’s commitment to secure, fair elections, provide all its requirements, maintain its neutral responsibility for competition in the electoral process and support it.”

It added: “The government will perform its legal duty to bring to trial any party trying to abuse this role, falsify facts, accuse the Prime Minister’s office unfairly and slanderously, or try to derail the elections.”

Twenty-one electoral coalitions will run in Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections in October, according to the country’s election commission.

The Al Fatah Alliance headed by Shia politician Hadi Al Amiri and the State of Law Coalition led by former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki are the two main parties running in the vote. There are also the National Power of the State Coalition led by Ammar Al Hakim and Al Nasr Coalition of former Premier Haidar Al Abadi.

Prominent Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr has announced his boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq.

The polls were originally scheduled to be held in 2022, but Iraq’s political parties have decided to hold early elections following mass protests that erupted in the country in 2019 against deep-seated corruption and poor services.