The Iraqi parliamentary elections in the eyes of the Iranian press

I'm an image! 2021 / 18 / Oct

The events in Iraq are of great importance in the Iranian press, and for this reason, Iranian newspapers covered the Iraqi early parliamentary elections on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 12 and 13. But unlike previous elections, the major political newspapers did not publish this event on their front pages. Instead, the newspapers covered the performance of the Iranian parliament and its failure to fulfill the promises and slogans it called for since its formation more than a year ago. However, the newspapers in the section on international affairs and diplomacy covered developments related to the Iraqi elections. Many reports and articles were published about the reasons for the low level of participation in the parliamentary elections and its repercussions on the future of Iraq in a large number of reformist and fundamentalist newspapers, so each newspaper devoted more than one analysis to one issue. 


The Iraqi parliamentary elections in reformist newspapers


The reformist Iranian journalist, Ahmad Zeidabadi, wrote an article entitled “A Cold Welcome from the Iraqis” in the reformist newspaper Etemad. The writer says that the Iraqi parliamentary elections are free and fair in all respects. Free because all persons, parties, and political groups of any sect or religion have the right to run for office or submit a list of candidates to run for parliament. It is fair because all people and parties have the same rights to promote their names or the electoral lists they support, and do not face discriminatory laws and regulations. However, the parliamentary elections were met with a cold reception by the Iraqi people, and more than 41 percent of eligible voters did not vote. This level of participation indicates that many Iraqis have lost hope in the effectiveness of their country's democratic system and do not see the presence or absence of ballot boxes as decisive in determining their fate.


As for the reformist newspaper "Sharq", it published an article under the title "Iraq in a spiral of suffering" written by a Middle East affairs analyst, Muhammad Ali Dostmali, in which it said: Contrary to expectations, the Iraqi people did not show a great desire to go to the ballot boxes. The announcement of the preliminary results of the Iraqi elections carries two important messages: First, that most political movements and parties have created an image by repeating the same results as before, in which there is little opportunity to change the political and partisan balances. Second, the voter turnout was lower than in the previous period, at 41 percent, indicating that at least 60 percent of Iraqi voters are not happy with the political fabric and have little hope. Dostmali pointed out that a look at the political and economic challenges and crises in Iraq in recent years reveals the fact that the Iraq crisis is not the result of the presence of the American occupation forces, the damage caused by terrorism, or foreign interference, nor even ethnic differences and issues such as the Kurdistan Region referendum. What is evident in Iraq more than any other negative phenomenon is deep and widespread financial corruption, the inefficiency of the authorities, the lack of a development strategy, and confusion in determining the country's economic direction. During the past eighteen years, Iraq has not solved even simple problems such as the power outage crisis, and it is still difficult to provide electricity and drinking water in all governorates. In the conclusion, the writer says that the formation of the government and state building in Iraq and the rise and fall of parties and personalities have created a spiral of crisis indicating that there is no hope for radical and real change.


As for the reformist newspaper Arman Melli, it published an article entitled “Has Iraq begun to move away from Iran?” Written by political analyst, Muhammad Ali Basiri, in which he wondered: Has Iraq become distant from Iran? Believing that a kind of distancing has already occurred, and the reasons are due to American pressure and the sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran, thus restricting Tehran’s activity and its relations with neighboring countries. He stated. Basiri said that Iran was not successful in improving its image in public opinion in the Middle East, explaining that Iran’s competitors were able to fill the Iranian vacuum and work to spread “Iranophobia” among the countries of the region, which was the reason for countries moving away from Iran. The writer also criticized Iran's interest in one spectrum of political factions in the countries of the region, which led to other factions taking an opposing position on Tehran and its policies. In the end, the author suggests that to improve relations with Iraq, Iran must focus on principles such as common security so as not to weaken Tehran-Baghdad relations in the future.


“Iraqi elections and new political balances” is the title of an article written by political analyst Hassan Hani Zadeh for the reformist Arman Milli newspaper. Hani Zadeh says in his article that it seems that the political equations in the Iraqi parliament are changing, and groups behind the scenes are trying to engineer and shape the electoral process in favor of the secular factions and political movements that are not aligned with the Shiite authority. Thus, the initial results of the elections show that the Iraqi people and voters are very tired of the traditional figures who have been in power for eighteen years and want change. However, the changes that occurred in the future Iraqi parliament naturally show that powerful regional and international bodies and organizations played an influential role in directing voters and engineering public opinion. Therefore, the suspicious presence of some secular and anti-religious figures in these elections and the Baath Party agents who participated in them, such as Khaled Sultan Hashem, the son of the Minister of Defense of the Baathist regime and the most hated figure in Iraq, ran in the elections and formed a coalition against the entire Shiite movement. Therefore, it can be said that the next Iraqi parliament will be secular and opposed to the Popular Mobilization Forces and popular movements. Sharq newspaper addressed in a report entitled “Al-Kadhimi, the Prime Minister that Muqtada needs,” in which it said: With the boycott of the elections by 60 percent of Iraqis, most of whom are dissatisfied with the government’s performance, Muqtada al-Sadr has become a decisive figure in Iraq’s political future. A relative of Muqtada al-Sadr says that the Iraqi ambassador to Britain, Jaafar al-Sadr, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hassan al-Kaabi, and Nasser al-Rubaie, one of the leaders of the Sadr movement, along with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, are among the most fortunate candidates nominated by Muqtada al-Sadr. However many political observers believe that in light of the current situation in Iraq, Al-Sadr will be forced to keep Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in his position. Al-Kadhimi is very popular among the people and even the Iraqi protesters because he does not belong to a third country or a specific movement, and even Nouri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri implicitly support him despite their opposition to him. Political alliances with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Masoud Barzani, and the “Progress” coalition, led by Muhammad al-Halbousi, will also help him remain in office. Although Al-Kadhimi has stated several times that he will not run again, his policies over the past few months are an indication of his efforts to win the position of prime minister. In particular, Al-Kadhimi enjoys international and regional support, and many, including the President of the United States and European Union leaders, believe that he is the best option to maintain relative calm in Iraq. It seems that this perception also exists among the Iraqi national forces and influential Iraqi politicians in the country.


“The boycott has strengthened al-Sadr” is the title of an article written by Shihab Shahswari for the reformist newspaper “Etemad”. The writer says, according to pre-election forecasts and opinion polls, boycotting the elections and declining turnout will benefit the large blocs in the current parliament. For this reason, the Sairoon coalition, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, won the parliamentary elections with 19 more seats than in the previous parliamentary session. Muqtada al-Sadr, who has become one of Iraq's main politicians since the 2005 election of Ibrahim al-Jaafari and has been the main decision-maker in recent years in electing the prime minister, now has the opportunity to directly nominate one of his supporters and relatives as prime minister. But having a third of the seats in Parliament means that Al-Sadr will have a winding road ahead of him after these elections to negotiate with other parties and alliances to elect a new prime minister.


Political analyst Jalal Khosh Jahra wrote an article for the reformist newspaper “Ebtekar” titled “Iran and the unrest in neighboring countries,” in which he said: The results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections warn Tehran that the situation in Iran’s southwestern neighbor will become more chaotic than it is. The low participation rate of Iraqis in the elections and their results will not lead to the establishment and formation of a strong and credible government in this country and create a bright and hopeful outlook. The defeat of traditional Iraqi movements, including Islamist groups with party affiliations, in the elections has two clear meanings: First, the Iraqi political landscape has changed. Secondly; From now on, traditional elites can no longer be considered influential figures in influencing developments in Iraq. The writer says that the Iraqi people have the right to enjoy the benefits of the fall of the Baathist regime, as since 2005 they have suffered from wars, insecurity, poverty, government corruption, lack of prosperity, and the cost of fighting between rival factions. Early parliamentary elections in Iraq may be the key to breaking the stalemate in the chronic unrest in the country if the protesting generation believes in the will of the organizers of these elections. But this did not happen, and the future Iraqi government certainly, with any possible combination, will not be able to change the people’s point of view.


“Baghdad - Tehran Awaiting Election Results” is the title of an article written by Ruhollah Nakhai for the reformist Shargh newspaper, in which he says: The special situation in Iraq puts the country in a position that enables it to create many political and economic opportunities for Iran and provide solutions to environmental and water issues, especially in southwestern Iran. On the other hand, it could create additional problems for Tehran. The second possibility, especially in light of the situation in which eastern and northwestern Iran has become a source of serious challenges for the country, makes Tehran closely follow the Iraqi elections. The writer says that the regional talks, the Tehran and Riyadh talks, the two countries cooperation in the fields of economics, energy, and environmental challenges, and the issue of water and water dredging in southwestern Iran are among the issues on which the fate of these elections could have a positive or negative impact and add to or remove from the challenges of Iranian foreign policy.


The Iraqi parliamentary elections in fundamentalist newspapers


Political analyst Saadallah Zaraei wrote in an article entitled “Points about the Iraqi parliamentary elections” in the fundamentalist Kayhan newspaper, in which he says: The Iraqi parliamentary elections took place with the participation of about 44 percent of those who had a participation card in the elections. This participation in Iraq is considered appropriate under these circumstances, especially since in Arab countries where elections are held, people’s participation does not exceed this limit. The writer believes that the recent elections were an arena for some parties to appear strong, some other parties to appear weak, and some other parties to disappear from the political scene completely. The writer says that holding early parliamentary elections on the scheduled date and not delaying them is an important achievement for the Iraqis and their political system. However, these changes and transformations will not be so great as to lead to the formation of a “new Iraq,” but they will lead to the creation of a new atmosphere in Iraq. It is hoped that in the new environment, the two parties will be better able to move toward understanding and create a strong, effective, and accountable government. For its part, the fundamentalist newspaper Jam Jam, affiliated with the Iranian Radio and Television Corporation, wrote a report under the title “The Iraqi Parliament is a Bastion of Resistance,” in which it said: With the announcement of the results of the Iraqi elections, it became clear once again that the majority of the members of the Iraqi Parliament had been given to groups that oppose the American military presence and support Resistance speech. The common denominator between groups and coalitions such as Fatah, State of Law, Sairoon, and others is opposition to the presence of the occupiers in the region. Therefore, after the restructuring of Parliament, it seems that the so-called demand for US withdrawal from Iraq will be reconsidered by the representatives.


The fundamentalist newspaper Jam Jam also published an article titled “Removing the United States from the future of Iraq,” in which it said: There is no doubt that the recent elections in Iraq and the results obtained mean a political-security defeat for Washington in Baghdad. Especially since the White House opposed holding elections in Iraq and announced this opposition publicly. The election results also showed that most of the winners in the recent elections opposed the presence of the American occupiers in Iraq. Regardless of the tactical approach of these groups and the differences that sometimes exist in this regard, the common denominator in their strategic vision is an Iraq without the occupiers. Another point goes back to the issue of chaos and lack of governance in Iraq. It is clear that if a strong government is formed in Iraq after consultations between the various parliamentary blocs and the winning representatives, Washington will face difficult obstacles to destabilize Iraq by strengthening terrorist and Takfiri groups.


The newspaper "Hamshahri" published by the Tehran Municipality wrote in a report entitled "Cold Elections in Iraq" in which it said: Despite the propaganda and repeated calls by Iraqi religious parties and movements for the people to participate in the parliamentary elections, the results announced by the Election Commission were disappointing. However, it can be said that Mustafa Al-Kadhimi can be considered one of the most successful political figures during the developments that Iraq has witnessed in recent years. Al-Kadhimi succeeded in running Iraq during one of the most critical times in Iraqi history, without significant affiliation with any of the major parties, and was able to establish acceptable political stability for approximately more than a year. Al-Kadhimi's fate now depends on the political weight of the new parliament. The Sadrist movement, which is currently considered the winner of the elections, is one of the groups loyal to Al-Kadhimi. It should be noted that the movement has only 80 seats and needs at least 40 to 50 additional seats to appoint a prime minister. In other words, the Sadrists, despite their great political weight, are still unable to implement their plans without interacting with other political movements. If the Sadrist movement agrees with the Fatah coalition (Hadi Al-Amiri) and the National State Forces (Ammar Al-Hakim), extending Al-Kadhimi as prime minister can be considered an easy matter. But if such a coalition is not formed, the way will be paved for other options such as Nouri al-Maliki or Falih al-Fayyad.


The fundamentalist Kayhan newspaper wrote in a report entitled “From Zero to 100 the Iraqi Parliamentary Elections” in which it said: The weak turnout, the announcement of the victory of the Sadrist movement, the protest of the various political movements against the results, and the possibility of fraud are among the matters that complicate the Iraqi parliamentary elections and determine the political future of this country. In a state of mystery. The announcement of the election results sparked many reactions. In a speech in which he announced the victory of his candidates in the elections, Muqtada al-Sadr stressed the fight against corruption and said, "Weapons must be in the hands of the government and must not be used outside the framework of work." However, some party leaders, including Al-Fatah, strongly criticized the election results, but these accusations were met with a reaction from the Iraqi High Elections Commission. In the end, it seems that in light of the protests that resulted from these elections, the political climate in Iraq will undergo changes in the coming days, which will only result in a more complex atmosphere, Kayhan newspaper wrote.


The result

The Iraqi parliamentary elections were one of the most important topics covered by Iranian political newspapers last week. The topic of the Iraqi elections was more focused in reformist newspapers and to a lesser extent in fundamentalist newspapers. Meanwhile, the main focus of reformist newspapers was on the issue of boycotting the elections and a record drop in voter turnout in the elections, citing public distrust of politicians, frustration, and declining hope for improvement in the country's conditions. But fundamentalist newspapers paid less attention to the issue of participation, and even considered this level of popular participation in the elections acceptable. In addition, while reformist newspapers believe that the results of the Iraqi elections harm Iran's interests, fundamentalist newspapers believe that the results of the parliamentary elections harm the interests of the United States in Iraq because the results of the elections indicate the victory of anti-American movements. After the formation of Parliament, it seems that the request for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq will be on the agenda of the new representatives.