Academics: Elections results may lead to political instability in Iraq

Academics from Bashur (South) Kurdistan evaluated the Iraqi parliamentary elections held on October 10, and said that foreign forces interfered in the elections, which may lead to an internal conflict in Iraq.

Early general elections were held in Iraq and Bashur Kurdistan on October 10. There were also very contradictory statements about the turnout at the elections. According to official statements, the turnout at the elections was around 41 percent. Out of the 41 percent, 10 percent of the voters invalidated their votes.

One of the former prime ministers Iyyad Allavi, known as a Sunni leader, even though he is a Shiite, said in a statement he made shortly before the announcement of election results that the real turnout was 12 percent and asked why the election board was deceiving the people by saying it was 41 percent.

ANF talked with academics from Duhok University Hisham Zêbarî and Kamuran Berwarî about the elections, after the announcement of the official results, the turnout at the elections and what will happen in post-election Iraq.

The people said they don’t trust parties

Dr. Kamuran Berwarî, a lecturer from Duhok University, said that although the turnout was very low, the officials announced a high turnout. He said that the people did not go to the polls and gave a message to the government and political parties that the “don't trust” them. However, some parties declared victory.

Berwarî added that there are over 26 million voters in Iraq, and only 14 percent of them, protested the election from the beginning. “70 percent of the voters did not go to the polls. 48 percent of the people protested by not getting their cards. Those who went to the polls remain at 30 percent. The official turnout in Kurdistan is incorrect. The election turnout in Kurdistan is between 11 and 12 percent. The turnout in Hewler is not 40 percent, but only 17 percent. It is 18.8 percent in Sulaymaniyah and 19.5 percent in Duhok,” he said.


Berwarî underlined that none of the elections that have been held in Iraq since 2003 have been without fraud. “3240 candidates competed in this election for 329 seats in Iraqi parliament. 14 thousand media outlets in Iraq and Bashur Kurdistan followed the elections. Furthermore, the elections were held under the supervision of over 2000 international observers. However, electoral fraud was obvious. These results do not represent the people of Bashur and Iraq. We also need to see that international and regional powers pushed the government for early general elections in order to form a partisan government.”

Berwarî noted that only 9 million voters out of 26 million in Iraq went to the polls and such an election cannot be legitimate. “Only 9 million 77 thousand out of 26 million voters across Iraq went to the polls. The results also seem to be unrealistic. It does not represent the people if we look at the number of those who went to the polls. The people of Iraq and Bashur did not go to the polls saying to parties: ‘you cannot solve our economic, political, security, democracy, peace, brotherhood and coexistence issues’. The people have made it clear that the government and other political parties cannot solve their problems by boycotting them.”

Foreign powers intervened in the elections

For Berwarî, international and regional powers intervened in the elections. “The elections results are an outcome of alliances between Jordan and Iraq, Turkey and KDP, KDP and Turkmens. Saudi Arabia was also involved. The current state of affairs shows that the alliances have been formed to bring the Sunnis back to the political scene. They all want to intervene in politics in Iraq.

The Shiites also intervened in the elections. They aimed to neutralize Iran by promoting Muqtada al-Sadr who is known as pro-US and pro-Saudi. These forces are trying to justify Turkey's intervention in Bashur Kurdistan and Iraq. Sunnis are encouraged to do so. They are also allied with Saudi Arabia in this regard. They also want to strike a blow against the Freedom Movement which is fighting for a greater Kurdistan. The parties from Bashur are promoted to do so.”

Dangerous game

Berwarî said that the plan to break the influence of some forces by interfering in the elections in Iraq and Bashur Kurdistan is dangerous. “After the election, a serious internal unrest broke out among the Shiites in Iraq. Before this election, the Shiites were divided into five parts. Each of them was allied to a power and engaged in politics. Now they are even more fragmented. There are efforts to make al-Sadr the religious authority of the Shiites in Iraq. Hence, the Shiites close to Iran are wanted to be neutralized. The people and various parts of the society that seek freedom were left hopeless with these elections. The message was whatever you do, you cannot overcome this system.

However, a very dangerous situation is looming. There is a danger of civil war. While the interests of some forces in Iraq are damaged and the interests of others are promoted. The powers whose interests have been damaged will not accept this situation.”

Berwarî added that a government is less likely to emerge out of the current picture. Turkey wanted a Sunni and Baathist government to be established by making an agreement with al-Sadr, and that if this is successfully handled, Turkey would spread to Mosul and Kirkuk establishing military bases in those areas.

Sunnis are championed

Another academic from Duhok University Dr. Hisham Zebari evaluated the early general elections in Iraq and Bashur Kurdistan.

Zêbarî told that the elections were openly intervened by international and regional powers. “International and regional powers wanted to foster the interests of some parties in the elections. It was a nationalist and faith-based approach. The number of the people who boycotted the elections was higher than in all previous elections. Not going to vote is one thing and boycotting an election is something else. A large proportion of the public boycotted this election. This is an important point. The second important point is that some international and regional powers intervened in the elections to support some Sunni groups in the elections.”

Zêbarî said that the main purpose of the intervention in the elections is to neutralize Iran. “The intervention led to a decrease in the number of represented groups close to Iran in the parliament. The parliamentary seats of groups close to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been increased. The election performance of the KDP and Barzanis was also shocking. The KDP would not even dream of this. It is necessary to realize that the results it got were the outcome of interventions. It is also necessary to know that an agreement and alliance was made with Sunni, Turkmen and some Shiite groups in order to achieve this result.”

Zêbarî added that the intervention in the elections aimed at destroying the existing power balance and establishing a much more dangerous one in its place. “It is necessary to see that they did this in order to destroy the existing power balance. It is necessary to see that they helped the Barzanis party to increase the number of its parliamentary seats. There is also intervention in the election results. For example, only in Duhok, 72 percent of the people did not vote for the Barzanis and their parties, but it is declared that they won many parliamentary seats. I would like to ask how they received these seats.”

Parties and government take advantage of boycott

Zêbarî insisted that most of the people boycotted the elections in Iraq and Bashur Kurdistan and that the parties and the government want to take advantage of this. “Not all boycotts produce positive results. These elections were useful to the government. The KDP and the Barzanis party in Mosul say how many parliamentarians they won with very few votes and try to portray it as a victory. However, the voters have taken a stance and clearly said that they do not want the existing system and the ruling parties. However, the government is announcing an election result it desired. This is a dangerous thing that leads to major errors.”

Zêbarî asked how the KDP won 9 parliamentarians in Nînowa, that is, in Mosul “If we examine this, we can understand the fraud and intervention very well. For instance, the KDP could not make any election propaganda in Mosul and its vicinity. The people in Shengal did not even allow them to enter the city. The people there openly said that they would vote for their candidate, the PADE candidate. But how is it possible that this candidate was not elected, have you ever thought about that? The election results were gained through the plans and the interventions made on behalf of the KDP.”