Soleimani in Baghdad to Wield Iranian Influence on New Govt.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani was in Baghdad for talks with Shiite leaders to enforce the “Iranian choice” on the formation of a new government after the announcement of the Iraqi parliamentary election results.

According to Agence France Presse, Iran is holding meetings to try to block Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, who heads Iraq’s Sairoon coalition, from forming a government.

Sadr and a rival bloc of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) appeared to surge in surprise preliminary results from the country’s first poll since the defeat of the ISIS terrorist group.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who is the internationally favored incumbent, lagged behind after a vote hit by record abstentions.

AFP said that Soleimani was in Baghdad to try to broker a coalition among Sadr’s Shiite rivals.

A participant in the meetings told AFP: “Soleimani has reportedly called for a union between Abadi’s bloc, the Conquest Alliance of former anti-ISIS commander Hadi al Ameri and former premier Nouri al-Maliki.”

Iraqi national elections were held on Saturday and 44 percent of eligible voters headed to the polls.
Preliminary results showed that Iranian-backed al-Ameri’s bloc was in second place, while al-Abadi’s Victory Alliance was third.

Sadr’s apparent victory does not mean his bloc could necessarily form the next government as whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government, expected to be formed within 90 days of the official results.

On Tuesday, Abadi telephoned Sadr to congratulate him on winning the elections victory.

The PM praised the holding of the electoral process in a secure and democratic atmosphere.

For his part, Sadr described his victory as “an achievement for the Iraqi people and its national entitlement.”

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