ERBIL — The main Iraqi Shi’ite faction, the Islamic Dawa Part, is expected to face drastic challenges for the upcoming general elections in the country, with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi having slight chances to win the competition if Hashd al-Shaabi is not prohibited from taking part in the elections as a political entity this time.
According to a recent report by the Washington Times, Abadi has failed in disbanding the Iranian-backed militias of Hashd al-Shaabi from running for the elections as militia leaders are resigning from their positions within the armed group and then registering for the parliamentary election which is set for May this year.
The report points out that a new coalition has been formed by the Shi’ite militias, dubbed the Mujahedeen Coalition. It “includes representatives from the Shia-led Badr Organization, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, also known as the Khazali Network, Kata’ib Hezbollah and other Shia militias that battled Islamic State under the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) banner.
The new fraction is enjoying Tehran’s support which already has a huge influence on Baghdad.
Abadi, worried now about the outlook of his political carrier, is reportedly planning to undermine at least the military power of Hashd al-Shaabi through downsizing the number of militias in the various groups operation under the umbrella of Hashd al-Shaabi. He is also intended to strip these groups off heavy arms.
Iraqi news agencies said earlier that former Prime Minister and president of Islamic Dawa Part, Nouri al-Maliki, is also planning to take part in the election in a separate list than Haider al-Abadi.
Political commentators believe that Washington has also lost hope in Abadi for his failure in encountering the growing influence of Iranian-backed militias. The current PM has also lost the support of his own party, they claim.
Abadi entered the parliament after last elections with 5,151 votes only, and later was appointed as the prime minister with the help of his powerful party.
Hashd al-Shaabi was established after Islamic State (IS) ravaged vast areas in north and west Iraq back in 2014. The group is accused of numerous human rights abuses against the Sunni population of the areas it liberated from IS over the last three years.
Kurdish lawmaker Jamal Kochar believes that disbanding Hashd al-Shaabi is not the only mission Abadi has failed in. “Abadi cannot even make a decision that is not well received by Iran,” he stated.
He also claimed that the US is also aware of the situation and is planning to replace Abadi after the election. However, Kochar criticized Washington for being indifferent to Iran’s growing influence in Iraq.