Iraq News

Iraqi forces maintain security amid post-elections turmoil

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad


Joint Ninawa Operations Command forces search villages on the Baghdad-Mosul road on June 2nd for wanted individuals. [Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defence]

Iraqi security agencies have done a good job of maintaining political neutrality during the recent parliamentary elections and the heated political wrangling that ensued, Iraqi officials told Diyaruna.

After the May 12th elections were contested following allegations of fraud, the Iraqi parliament on June 7th ordered a manual recount at all polling stations and sacked the commission that had overseen the polls, AFP reported.

According to intelligence services, tests of electronic voting machines -- used for the first time in Iraqi elections -- produced varied results, appearing to give credence to the fraud claims.

On June 10th, a fire ravaged a warehouse in Baghdad's al-Rusafa district, where votes from May's legislative election were being stored ahead of a recount.

Al-Rusafa is one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad, with around 60% of the city's two million voters casting their ballots in the recent elections.

"There is no doubt that it was a deliberate act and I am personally following up on the investigation with the criminal police and the committee tasked with probing the fire," Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji said.

Iraqi forces remain focused

Amid all this political tumult and controversy, Iraqi forces have continued to pursue extremist groups without being distracted, experts told Diyaruna.

"Strengthening security remains a priority for the government, and we should not be distracted by anything else," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on May 29th.

"Iraqi security agencies are far from interfering in political affairs and their repercussions," said Ministry of Defence spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul.

"Security agencies belong to only one large party, the Iraqi nation with its people, land and history," he told Diyaruna, adding that "we respect the political process in the country, but we do not engage in it".

"Our mission is to protect citizens and law and order in the country," Rasul said, pointing to recent protests in Kirkuk province over the election results, when security agencies maintained neutrality and carried out their duty without bias.

War on terror 'a daily duty'

The Iraqi military is working to uproot terrorist hotbeds regardless of the political issues roiling the country, security expert Jassim Hanoun told Diyaruna.

It is proceeding with the plan to fight ISIS, eliminate its guest houses and purge the areas it used to control, based on solid intelligence efforts, he said.

"Election results or the transfer of power from the current government to the next one should not affect the security situation in the country or the performance of security forces in fighting ISIS," he added.

He urged the government to strengthen the military institution and give it more flexibility in decision-making, noting that the war against terrorism is a daily duty that cannot be disrupted while a new government is being formed.

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