Brigadier General Esmail Qaani (Ghaani), IRGC Quds Force deputy, undated. (IRNA)

October 12, 2021

The new commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force has come to Baghdad on an unannounced visit, a source in the Iraqi parliament confirmed.

Ismail Ghani arrived in the Iraqi capital at dawn on Monday, October 11 in the aftermath of the country’s first parliamentary election since mass protests in winter 2019.

Initial results on Monday showed record low turnout, but also major gains for Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s populist Sadrist Movement, which is now expected to hold a majority in the legislature.

A sitting MP told IranWire that Ghani had held meetings with a number of key Iraqi officials and political groups over the course of Monday.

“The IRGC Quds Force commander’s meetings with officials in Iraq,” they said, “are intended to coordinate positions on political allegiances for the post-results period.”

Apparent Victor Warns Against Foreign Interference

The visit came even as Muqtada al-Sadr tweeted about the need “not to interfere” in the decisions of the Iraqi Electoral Commission “nor to put pressure on it – internally or from foreign countries.”

The Islamic Republic has long been accused of meddling in Iraqi domestic politics, through both sympathetic proxies and militia groups.

Pro-Iran political parties, which appeared on Monday to have lost many seats to Sadrists and pro-reform candidates, have already threatened to not recognize the result.

For his part Al-Sadr insisted that the vote on Sunday had not been compromised. “What distinguishes these elections,” he said, “is that they took place under national, international and Arab auspices and supervision, and they were approved.”

He added that his group was closely monitoring for any “illegal” interference in the process, and for external interference that could “undermine Iraq’s prestige and independence”.

The polls closed across Iraq on Sunday night. Preliminary results announced by the Election Commission gave Al-Sadr’s party 73 seats, up from 54 in 2018 and potentially giving the bloc a majority in the legislature.

The results from manual counting, the body added in an official statement, were a 100 percent match with the electronic count.

No fewer than 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates, including 951 women, were competing for the 329 available seats.

Iran Wire

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.