Months earlier, Pentagon and State Department sources said US troops will remain in Iraq and Syria indefinitely.
Washington wants control over both countries. Syria’s Assad calls the US an invader, an illegal occupier of northern (bordering Turkey) and southern parts of the country, bordering Iraq and Jordan.
Iraqi parliamentarians demand to know a timeline for the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from their country. Their regional presence has nothing to do with combating ISIS Washington created and supports.
US-installed puppet Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi faced challengers to his leadership, including from former PM Nouri al-Maliki and former transport minister Hadi al-Amiri, both with close ties to Iran.
Parliamentary elections took place on Saturday, turnout low at 32%, according to the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), results perhaps to be announced on Monday.
Around 7,000 candidates competed for 329 seats in parliament – nine reserved for ethnic and religious minorities, including five for Christians.
Iraqi law calls for one representative per 100,000 people, women to hold at least 25% of seats.
The Shia majority country reserves the key prime ministerial position for one of its candidates. Kurds hold the largely ceremonial presidency, a Sunni serving as parliament speaker.
Washington wants its man retaining his leadership. US pro-Abadi propaganda began weeks earlier, Defense Secretary Mattis claiming “worrisome evidence that Iran is trying to influence – using money – the Iraqi elections,” adding:
“That money is being used to sway candidates, to sway votes. It’s not an insignificant amount of money, we believe. And we think it’s highly unhelpful.”
He presented no evidence supporting his claim. Nor did he explain US money-controlled elections, billions of dollars spent each electoral cycle for candidates supporting imperial/establishment interests – independents shut out entirely, notably anti-war/pro-social justice ones.
Abadi, Maliki or Amiri will emerge as Iraqi prime minister. Partial results show Amiri ahead with an estimated 40% of the vote.
If he sustains this percentage, he’ll likely head the next coalition government, heavy US pressure to follow. Failure to bend to its will would leave him vulnerable to regime change.
Maliki wasn’t subservient enough to Washington, replacing him with Abadi in September 2014.
For the first time, electronic voting was used, many irregularities reported. Kurdistan Regional Government information technology head Hiwa Afandi tweeted:
“We visited IHEC and checked the biometric system. We were very surprised how faulty the workflow and management was. We reported this.”
“Not using technology is better than a faulty implementation. Auditing and certifying is a must for such application where trust is a big issue.”
Once Iraq’s Supreme Court certifies election results, parliament is required to meet within 15 days. Forming a new government can take weeks or months.
Decades of US-instigated war since the 1980s devastated the nation and its people.
As long as Washington is involved in the country, things aren’t likely to improve.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."