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10/25/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Following the preliminary results of Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary elections, Iranian proxies lost a significant portion of their seats and influence, inciting accusations of fraud and threats against Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).q

Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako responded to the rising political tensions, calling on “all politicians to adhere to national and brotherly values, to give priority to the public interest over partisan agendas, and to sit together in a calm civilized dialogue for understanding and ending the current tension.” He urged restraint for threats to violence and arms and to prioritize the formation of the new government to “avoid the situation slipping to its worst possible outcome”.

Iranian proxies are likely to escalate violence or other forms of coercion against those with a perceived role in their political downturn, according to an article by Katherine Lawlor with the Institute for the Study of War. Those accused include the IHEC, UNAMI, United States, United Nations, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. Iran’s parliamentary proxy, the Conquest Alliance which includes political wings of the Badr Organization and a US-designated terrorist group AAH, only received 16 seats. In 2018, the coalition had a high of 47 seats.

Lawlor continues on to suggest that a quick government formation would be most beneficial to domestic stability and US interests, so long as the leading member Muqtada al-Sadr can efficiently create a coalition. She writes, “In this scenario, Iran will likely tolerate a second Kadhimi government to retain stability but will allow some of its proxies, like Kata’ib Hezbollah, to directly, and sometimes violently, oppose that government. If a newly emboldened, Sadrist-led government elects to crack down on proxy militias, as Sadr threatened to do in his victory speech, the proxies will likely respond with violence against Sadrists or government officials.”

Iraq’s recent elections received a low voter turnout reportedly, with Christians unsure of their role in the political field. Christians and Yazidis have largely sought to emigrate from Iraq after decades of turmoil and persecution. Iraq is now around 60 to 65 percent Shiite Muslim and 32-37 percent Sunni. The remaining population is comprised of Christians and other religious minorities. Iraqi Shiites are the largest political and religious group, though even internally are divided. Ethnically, Arabs, Turks, and Kurds are the largest groups inside Iraq, adding to the diversity of the population.

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