The shocker in Iraq
This election result wasn't what Washington was hoping for.
And they reveal a shock win for firebrand Iraqi cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who wasn't even running for prime minister, along with his coalition allies, the Iraqi Communist Party.
He was followed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi Al Amiri, while incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, initially predicted to win re-election, trailed in third.
Sadr’s Sairoon bloc was in the lead in 16 out of Iraq’s 18 provinces. I'm tickled by how Sadr's coalition partner are the communists.
It could have been worse. Amiri winning would have been the worst-case scenario for Washington, but this was pretty bad nonetheless.
Sadr has spearheaded a number of political movements in Iraq, gaining infamy for directing attacks on U.S. troops in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion. His charismatic sermons have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets over a range of causes. More recently, he's led campaigns and protests against corruption within the Shia-led government as well as against Iranian influence, and pledged to overcome sectarianism by leading a secular coalition that includes Iraq's communists.
Sadr in 2003 created the Mahdi Army, which executed the first major armed confrontation against U.S. forces in Iraq led by the Shia community — and it posed such a threat that U.S. forces were instructed to kill or capture him. The group, which numbered up to 10,000, was also accused of carrying out atrocities against Iraq's Sunnis. It was disbanded in 2008, but re-mobilized in 2014 to fight ISIS.
Sadr got famous for his men killing American soldiers, so the days of American influence in Iraq are over.
OTOH, Sadr is independent of Iran as well. So it's hard to say where this will lead.