Iraqi court rejects Iran-backed parties' appeal against election vote

The Iran-backed factions, including powerful armed groups, had alleged irregularities in the Oct. 10 ballot.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite parties disputing the vote results gather before Iraq's Supreme Court issues a verdict ratifying election results, in Baghdad, Iraq, December 27, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/AHMED SAAD)
Supporters of Iraqi Shiite parties disputing the vote results gather before Iraq's Supreme Court issues a verdict ratifying election results, in Baghdad, Iraq, December 27, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AHMED SAAD)

Iraq's Supreme Court on Monday ratified the results of an October parliamentary election and rejected appeals lodged by Iran-backed Shi'ite factions, derailing their attempt to overturn a vote in which they performed poorly.

The ruling allows the newly elected parliament to convene at last, and sets the stage for intensified negotiations to replace outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his cabinet.

Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a foe of both Iranian and US influence in Iraq, emerged as the biggest winner, with 73 of parliament's 329 seats. The Tehran-aligned bloc, which includes powerful armed groups, saw their representation slump to just 17 seats from 48 in 2018.

Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Iran-backed Shi'ite political coalition Fatah, issued a statement pledging to abide by the court ruling. Asaib Ahl Al Haq, an armed group that is part of the Fatah coalition, expressed disappointment at the ruling, without saying if it would seek to challenge it.

Reuters reported last week that Iran has been intervening in Iraq to quell destabilizing internal unrest stirred up by Iranian-backed militias.

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr speaks in Najaf, Iraq May 17, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/ALAA AL-MARJANI)Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr speaks in Najaf, Iraq May 17, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/ALAA AL-MARJANI)

Reading Monday's ruling, Chief judge Jassim Mohammed said that objections to the result, regardless of their basis, were undermining the value of the vote, weakening voters' confidence, and derailing the political process. The ruling was final and binding on all authorities, he said.

Under Iraq’s constitution, President Barham Salih should now call the new parliament into session within 15 days.

Since the US-led invasion that toppled minority Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraqi governments have been dominated by parties from the Shi'ite majority, in coalitions that have included Kurdish parties.

Sadr has said he will ally himself with whoever puts Iraq’s national interests first. That is an indication, Iraqi officials and Western diplomats say, that he may exclude some Iran-backed Shi'ite groups in favor of parties with cross-sectarian support.

The elections were held earlier than scheduled in response to huge street demonstrations two years ago against corruption and foreign influence, put down violently by security forces backed by pro-Iran armed groups.

Tehran is seeking to preserve its deep influence in its neighbor while also navigating tense negotiations over its nuclear ambitions with the United States.