Iranian media react to populist cleric's victory in Iraq elections

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that a manual recount of Saturday's national election results should be held if there is evidence that the new electronic voting system has proven unreliable.

With more than half of votes counted, a nationalist alliance between Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr and mostly secular groups is in the lead.

USA -backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tallied just over 1 million votes and will control 42 seats, and former US puppet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - who turned on the US and cozied up to Iran - placed fourth and holds about 25 seats. Today, he's rebranded himself as a populist outsider who will fight corruption and Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs.

Given the fact that the Al Hikma Movement was already part of Mr Al Abadi's alliance until just a few months ago, its return to form a government coalition with the Victory Alliance is a likely possibility.

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Nikki Haley denied that Monday's deaths had anything to do with the US decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem . The exception is Washington, which issued strong support on Monday of Israel's right to defend itself.

Describing Abadi as a figure who has the support of both Iran and the United States, Shargh wrote, "Even though Abadi achieved significant domestic and global success through the victory over Daesh [Islamic State], he failed to overcome economic problems, and this caused him not to achieve the results he expected in this election".

While Sadr's unlikely Marching Towards Reform alliance with Iraq's communists looks on course to be the biggest group in parliament - it faces many obstacles. The country is also waiting to hear results from Kirkuk, an oil-rich city disputed by Baghdad and Iraq's northern, autonomous Kurdish administration.

O'Neill warned that such a situation could be tenuous if America's former "enemy number one" is able to choose the next prime minister.

In order to truly reverse the apathy felt by some Iraqis, the government - and whoever becomes prime minister - must actively break down sectarian barriers while engaging with young people. It says it will announce the remaining results Tuesday.

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Turnout in the election was 44.5% - much lower than in previous polls.

"Some political parties are suspicious of the elections results [in the Kurdistan Region], and the KDP is suspicious of the results in Sulaimani Province", read a statement, released to the press.

O'Neill said al-Sadr cleverly renamed his "Mahdi Army" the "Peace Brigade" and said the name can be easily used as a propaganda tool to hurt people like Trump who oppose it. Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis.

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