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Country Risk

Iraq Election Keeps Reform Agenda Alive

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group
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  • Negotiations to form a new government will mean months of uncertainty, but continuity is seen as the likeliest outcome.

  • Nationalist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr triumphed in the Oct. 10 vote, while the main alliance of Iranian-backed groups collapsed.

  • The hiatus comes at a pivotal time for Iraq’s energy sector, with IOCs showing renewed interest.

Iraq’s latest election was marred by record-low turnout but impressive gains for nationalist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s well-organized Sairoon bloc, confirming his status as the most powerful figure in Iraqi politics. The election results favor the appointment of a pro-Western, pro-reform government similar to the one formed last year with the blessing of al-Sadr; a pragmatist whose preference is to keep Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in power, sources say. That would send a positive signal to Western oil firms looking afresh at opportunities in Iraq. However, the next government faces formidable challenges, from tackling endemic corruption and poor service provision — key drivers of voter apathy — to restructuring the economy and fixing Iraq’s gas flaring problem.

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