Al-Sadr refused to form a coalition with supporters of Iran

Lucy Bush
May 16, 2018

However, Sadr's coalition looks unlikely to win enough seats to form a government in its own right, and is likely to begin talks with other candidates to name a new prime minister.

Sadr's gains have called into question the presence of USA forces in Iraq, where more than 5,000 troops are indefinitely deployed to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran.

Sadr is an Iraqi nationalist who opposes both the USA and Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.

"If we want to change things then the prime minister needs to come from Marching Towards Reform", said Salah Jamal, 24.

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"The recent proximity of Muqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia has led the Sairoon Alliance to be partly considered as a group backed by the Saudis and ... to some extent means greater influence of Saudi Arabia [in Iraq] compared to its regional rivals", wrote Shargh on May 15, adding, "Sadr's supporters are opposed to Iranian influence and are vehemently anti-American". Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis.

"The Iraqi people had an election".

An electoral alliance of Hashd-linked candidates, headed by militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, is now in second place in the election returns.

It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government.

"I can just say the independent high electoral commission - that's basically the Iraqi equivalent of the federal election commission - they are investigating".

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The votes in the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Kirkuk are still to be counted, but their results will not affect al-Sadr's victory. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats. The results there, which may be delayed due to tensions between local parties, will not affect Sadr's standing.

Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr puts his ballot through an electronic counting machine into a ballot box at poll station in the central holy city of Najaf.

Saturday's election is the first since the defeat of ISIL past year.

The constitution sets a quota for female representation, stating that no less than one-fourth of parliament members must be women.

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