2018 Elections in Iraq: Reactionary Sectarianism Vs Reformist Nationalism
On 12 May 2018, Iraqis will take part in general elections, which could serve as a stepping stone for addressing the drivers that facilitated the rise of the Islamic State (IS). Largely, there are two competing ideological currents in the Shia polity in this election: sectarianism and nationalism. On the sectarian side, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is joined by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). This grouping has a reactionary agenda that will most likely witness a perpetuation of Sunni discrimination and closeness between Iraq and Iran. In this scenario, the drivers that facilitated the IS will be relegated to the background. In response to this, a nationalist movement spearheaded by Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged. This reformist movement aims to tackle issues like ethno-sectarian discrimination and corruption that played into the hands of the IS. In this scenario, Iraq will attempt to pivot away from Iran and move closer to Saudi Arabia and possibly the US.
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