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Sadr's Election Victory Exposes Failure of US Master Plan for Iraq - Analysts

© AFP 2022 / Haidar HAMDANIIraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr (C-L) shows his ink-stained index finger and holds a national flag while surrounded by people outside a polling station in the central holy city of Najaf on May 12, 2018 as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group
Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr (C-L) shows his ink-stained index finger and holds a national flag while surrounded by people outside a polling station in the central holy city of Najaf on May 12, 2018 as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The victory of Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq’s national election demonstrated the complete failure of the wars that the United States has waged in the country and of its nation-building policies there over the past 15 years, analysts told Sputnik.

Sadr's Sairum alliance won the most parliamentary seats (54) with the Conquest (Fatah) Alliance led by Hadi al-Amiri gaining 47 seats, and the incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Alliance earning 42 seats in the 329 parliament last week.

Sadr Election Win Reveals Failure of US Wars in Iraq

The election result in Iraq demonstrated a complete failure of Washington's war, retired Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong said.

"Perhaps a ‘nation’ has indeed been built, but it's not one Washington wanted," Armstrong said.

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Sadr first made a name for himself in the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq when he organized the Mahdi Army in the Sadr City area of Baghdad and further south, becoming a thorn in Washington's side and waging a guerrilla war against the coalition occupation forces.

After the US withdrew from Iraq in 2011, Sadr temporarily retreated from politics, but he re-emerged to criticize government corruption, challenge Baghdad's warming ties with Tehran and urge all foreign forces, including Iranian ones, to leave the country.

Armstrong recalled Sadr’s complicated maneuvers by which he survived setbacks and rose again in Iraqi politics.

"Once upon a time he was the enemy, then he was defeated in some surge or other and now he's back," Armstrong said.

In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018 photo, Iraqi security forces guard a polling station in Baghdad, Iraq - Sputnik International
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Sadr’s latest triumph showed that Washington’s neoconservative policies to control Iraq and roll back Iranian influence in the region had backfired against the United States instead, Armstrong noted.

"It underscores the fact that the lasting result of the neocon intervention in the area has been to give Iran more influence than it would otherwise have had," he said.

Iraqi Election Outcome Derails US Nation-Building Plan

Independent Institute Center for Peace and Freedom Director Ivan Eland agreed that Sadr’s victory was a major blow to the long-term US strategy in Iraq.

"Sadr’s performance in the election severely complicates a US nation-building project that was designed to produce a US-friendly Iraqi government," Eland said.

The Trump administration was unlikely to seek any kind of constructive political relationship with Sadr, Eland added.

"The United States does not trust Sadr, because he opposed the American occupation of Iraq. He has continued to oppose outside powers’ (the US and Iran) influence in that country. So US trust in an Iraqi government with his involvement will be low," Eland said.

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US policy since militarily invading and conquering Iraq in 2003 has been to support the development of a democratic political system and state there. But Eland cautioned that that this policy only applied as far as Washington approved of the government of the day in Baghdad as in other countries.

"Usually, US foreign policy supports democracy, until the people of a particular country elect a leader unfriendly to the United States. All in all, the US would usually like a friendly leader rather than a democratically-elected one," Eland said.

Sadr’s Sairun alliance has been created since the 2014 elections and has taken advantage of the chaos and dissatisfaction in Iraqi parliamentary politics. It success in the election took US intelligence by surprise, according to published reports.

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