A member of the Iraqi army outside of Mosul, November 2016.
Alaa al-Marjani / Reuters

On Sunday, Iraq held its first round of parliamentary elections since the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS). In a surprising result, the main victor was the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Sairoon Alliance, a coalition between Sadr’s own party and the Iraqi Communist Party, defeated coalitions led by the incumbent prime minister and U.S. favorite, Haider al-Abadi (who finished third), and the Iranian-backed Hadi al-Ameri (who finished second).

Sadr’s victory comes as a relief to neither Iran nor the United States, both of which Sadr targeted in his populist electoral campaign, which promised, like that

Finish reading this article for free.

Enter your email and we'll send a paywall-free link directly to your inbox.

In addition to your unlocked article, you will receive our flagship weekly newsletter Foreign Affairs This Week, as well as occasional updates and offers from Foreign Affairs. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, visit our user agreement and privacy policy.


Get unlimited access to all Foreign Affairs. Subscribe now.

Are you already a subscriber? Sign in.