Much early post-election commentary widely interpreted the vote as a defeat of religious parties and of Iran; and as a victory for secularism, moderation – and the United States (which pushed for these elections and needed a peaceful poll as evidence of Iraq’s upward trajectory as it prepares to pull out).
The reality is a good deal more complex. If these elections are a positive step in Iraq’s tortured quest to reinvent itself, it may be because both the United States and Iran gained. Tehran wants a friendly regime in Baghdad running a state that is sufficiently strong to hold the country together, but not so powerful that it could again invade its neighbour. It may have established, funded, equipped and trained ISCI – but it has supported a number of Iraqi groups since 2003, sometimes playing one against another, before mediating a new accommodation between them.
On balance, victory has gone to parties that oppose the notion of regionalisation advocated by ISCI and the Kurds, led by a Shi’a prime minister who has openly called for a stronger central state. This reinforces rather than undermines the Iranian agenda.
Iraqi Elections: Why Iran Gained
February 11, 2009 by Jari