MOSUL, Iraq — For the first time since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, a Shiite coalition has won in Mosul. According to the final election results announced May. 19, The Nasr Coalition won seven seats, followed by six for the Kurdish Democratic Party and four for al-Wataniya. The majority of the local candidates on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s list are actually Sunnis, and its head is former Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, an aeronautical engineer originally from Mosul.
“The Nasr Coalition got the [plurality] in Mosul because it was under Khaled al-Obeidi, who has the respect of the people in Mosul,” Faisal Jeber, a commander in Mosul’s Tribal Mobilization Forces, told Al-Monitor. “The former governor of Ninevah, Atheel al-Nujaifi, didn’t have a good relationship with the government in Baghdad. Mosul’s people are pragmatic, and they understood they need to cooperate with Baghdad. They expect the government to rebuild their city and to be treated as Iraqi citizens, not as Saddamists who deserve to be punished because they are Sunnis.”
Like other Iraqis, Mosulians were less than enthusiastic about the election. “I don’t feel any enthusiasm going to vote or any hope for change,” Badia Almahal, a teacher at a primary school in Mosul, told Al-Monitor on her way to her East Mosul polling station to vote for the Sunni al-Wataniya Alliance. She is a mother of two and her husband Mohammad H., who asked that Al-Monitor not relay his family name, is an engineer. Almahal spent most of her time at home when the Islamic State’s (IS) self-styled caliphate imposed its rule on the second largest city in Iraq, and her husband opened a temporary electronics repair shop to bring in some income for the family. “The governments that have ruled Iraq in the last 15 years are responsible for IS’ takeover and the destruction of our beloved city,” Almahal said. “How could we trust them?”
Many Iraqi voters stayed at home, with a low national turnout of only 44.52% across Iraq. The national results show the Sairoon Alliance, an alliance between the Sadrist Movement and the Iraqi Communist Party, in first place, with the Nasr Coalition coming in second.
Before election day was over and in the days after, children walked the streets and men drove small vans around, busy collecting the metal frames of the countless electoral posters in the city, already putting the election behind them, ready to recycle the material. The results had been expected.
“It was clear that after Abadi’s military campaign in Mosul, defeating IS, and after his announcement last July, Abadi a chance to be successful,” Laura Silvia Battaglia, a journalist following the electoral processes in Iraq since 2010, told Al-Monitor. In a Sunni-Arab area, where people also perceive hostility from the Kurds that increased during the war against IS, Mosulians didn’t have many options left. “It was not possible for them to support former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition or other Shiite parties, in particular not [al-Fateh], the [Popular Mobilization Units], which treated Mosulians during the Battle of Mosul with the same violence as IS.” Abadi is still considered the moderate candidate among the experienced politicians. On the other hand, “it should be taken in consideration that the last members of the Baath Party disappeared from the public political debate,” Battaglia added, “even if they are the closest to Mosulians in sectarian, tribal and cultural terms, in political Saddam-related past policies.”