Friday, December 1, 2017

Hashd Preparing To Participate In Iraq’s 2018 Elections


There were two reports that various Hashd factions were forming a list to run in the 2018 elections. The new group might be called the Mujahedeen Alliance and consist of Badr, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, Harakat al-Nujaba, Kataib Hezbollah, Saraya Khorasani, Imam Ali Brigades, and several others, along with Sunni tribal forces from western Iraq. Former spokesman for the Hashd Ahmed al-Asadi recently resigned that position so he can reportedly join this list. Hadi Amiri of Badr might be the leader of the group, and throw in his hat for the premiership. He hinted at this alliance as far back as June. Badr was part of State of Law during the last elections in 2014, but recently announced that would be forming its own coalition. (1) The Hashd are widely popular for their fighting and sacrifices in the war against the Islamic State. Its been widely expected that they would try to turn their prowess on the battlefield into victory at the ballot box. As the war progressed, several Sunni Hashd were also formed with many aligned with Shiite ones because of the weapons and funds that came along with it. That explains why some might be willing to run together with units that are aligned with Iran.

This came after Prime Minister Haidar Abadi repeatedly said that the Hashd could not run in the elections because they were armed and are officially part of the security forces. Of course, political parties with armed wings have always participated in Iraqs voting, which opened the door for the Hashd. Abadis statements then, were more part of his positioning against the pro-Iran groups, which are nominally under his control as commander and chief, but who he has had a running feud with. He has increasingly tried to sideline the Tehran backed factions from major operations and put the Counter Terrorism Service, army and police in the lead to try to increase the standing of the armed forces and his government.

For now, many questions remain about this proposed grouping. Will it be able to bring in Sunni Hashd units? Will it be competing with Abadi for votes or actually with Nouri al-Maliki who has thrown in with Iran? Will this list align with Maliki since they have backed each other politically during the war, and there are reports that Maliki might leave Dawa to run separately next year? How much money and backing will it get from Tehran, or will it continue to play the field backing various political parties to make sure it has influence across the spectrum? These issues and more will have to be watched and discussed in the coming months.

FOOTNOTES

1. Al Forat, “Amiri: Badr will run independent of State of Law in the next election and nominated candidate for presidency of the National Alliance,” 11/27/17

SOURCES

Al Aalem, “Dawa Party…A moment of historical split,” 11/29/17

Buratha News, “Hadi al-Amiri head of Alliance of Mujahedeen, consisting of eight factions of the crowd and excludes al-Maliki,” 11/30/17

Al Forat, “Amiri: Badr will run independent of State of Law in the next election and nominated candidate for presidency of the National Alliance,” 11/27/17

Hussein, Rikar, “Iran-backed Shi’ite Groups Seek Institutionalized Role in Post-IS Iraq,” Voice of America, 11/3/17

Iraq News Network, “Al-Amiri: All participants in the political process have militias and are not in conflict with the parties law,” 6/6/17
- “Maliki’s coalition: the popular crowd will participate in the elections under the title Alliance of the Mujahedeen,” 11/29/17

Al Mada, “An amendment to the election law prevents the crowd from running and is included in special vote,” 5/25/17



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