On Tuesday, June 12, Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced that his Saairun Alliance would form a political alliance with Hadi al-Amiri's pro-Iran Fatah Coalition. The move marks a major step toward the formation of a government, after weeks of negotiations between political coalitions and low turnout and allegations of fraud during the recent parliamentary elections. Heightened political tensions are expected to continue in Iraq in the coming weeks. Election-related protests and demonstrations are also possible.
The Iraqi parliament ordered a nationwide manual recount after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, citing a government report, claimed that there were "dangerous violations" during the vote. A ballot box storage depot in Baghdad subsequently caught fire on June 10, which Abadi deemed a deliberate "plot to harm the [Iraqi] nation and its democracy"; four people were arrested in connection to the incident, including three police officers and a member of the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC).
According to the election results, the Saairun Alliance - headed by Moqtada Al-Sadr and comprised of his Integrity party and Iraq's Communist party, among others - won more than 1.3 million votes in the May 12 election, gaining 54 seats in the 329-seat parliament. None of the competing blocs won a majority in parliament nor have the ability to name a prime minister alone.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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