Iraq is now preparing for the country’s key parliamentary elections scheduled on May 12, Saturday, about 5 months following the declaration of their victory over IS or Islamic State group, originally known as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or ISIS. This triumph is the result of the disarrayed Kurds, sidelined Sunnis, and dominant split of the Shiites.

Iraqis see a ray of hope with this upcoming 4th nationwide vote after Saddam Hussein’s rule ended back in 2003. However, the country might still experience the effects of the surging tensions between the United States and Iran.

After balancing off Tehran and Washington, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi aims to snatch a new term after being credited for the vicious fight against jihadists and warding off the Kurdish attempt for independence.

However, the stiff competition sizzling up within the prime minister’s Shiite community, which makes up a big chunk of Iraqi politics, might end up splitting the vote and result to a long-term horse-trading just so any type of government can be formed.

The premier who will be emerging victorious in this election is going to deal with the colossal task of having to build the country back from the ashes that resulted from the fierce battle against the ISIS.

Even though a rare time of peace has enshrouded the country, there are still over 2.5 million individuals who are internally displaced up to this day, with the jihadists posing a major threat to their security.

More than 15 years of being soaked in blood since the invasion led by the United States overturned the Iraqi politics, there remains to be an extensive disillusionment with the same old faces of the elite seen as stuck in sectarianism and corruption.

As the one who took over when ISIS rampaged all over the country back in 2014, Abadi is going to have a head to head battle with two leading challengers from Shiite to his Victory Alliance that pitches itself as the attempt of bridging the gap of the wide divide between the Shiite-Sunni of Iraq.

Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a somewhat bitter foe even though he comes from just the same Dawa party, is widely despised after he stirred sectarianism and lost territory to the ISI. However, a hardline base is backing him up and offers support.

Ex-transport transport minister Hadi-al-Ameri, known for his close ties to the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, is being looked up by many people as a war hero after he led paramilitary units which fought ISIS side by side the troops of Baghdad. He wants the US forces which helped fight off the jihadists to depart the country for good, which is a challenge to the cautious foreign policy of Abadi that aims to build bridges with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s known rival.

All in all, there are less than 7,000 candidates that remain standing, and the complex system of Iraq means that there is no single bloc will be getting a majority of the parliament with its 329 seats.

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