Country Risk

Alliance between Iraqi rival Shia coalitions reduces risk of inter-Shia violence; ongoing recount likely to delay government formation

19 June 2018

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds a joint press conference held with the commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces and leader of Fatah’s electoral alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, in Najaf, Iraq, on 12 June 2018. Source: Muqtada al-Sadr Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Key Points

  • The announcement of an alliance between Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Ameri, is a step forward for government formation, while reducing the likelihood of intra-Shia militia fighting.
  • The alliance announcement was likely intended to pre-empt calls for a rerun of the 12 May parliamentary election, as a result of the ongoing manual recount of votes. An election rerun is now highly unlikely; a recount is likely to reduce the seat allocation to the main coalitions, including these two factions, the formation of the alliance makes this outcome less likely.
  • A continuing split in the Islamic Dawa party, brought about by the inclusion of Prime Minister Abadi in the alliance, but excluding Nouri al-Maliki, is likely to result in an ineffective parliament and a government prone to paralysis and likely collapse.


In a risk positive development for civil war risk following Iraq’s 12 May parliamentary elections, the two rival and leading Shia factions, reformist Sairoon (led by Muqtada al-Sadr) and Fatah (dominated by Iran-aligned Shia militias and led by Hadi al-Ameri) formed an alliance on 12 June.

The announcement of an alliance came the day before a full manual recount began following widespread fraud allegations, and which is likely to reduce both factions’ parliamentary share. It is, however, unlikely to fundamentally alter the election result: a fragmented parliament requiring a broad coalition in order for a cabinet to be formed.

In order to form a government, a majority coalition of at least 165 seats is needed in parliament, with Sairoon claiming 54 seats and Fatah 47. On 8 June, Sairoon formed alliances with two other reformist coalitions, Wataniya and Hikma, with 21 and 18 seats, respectively. Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) with 24 seats and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) with 17 seats, have expressed support for the Sadr-Ameri alliance.

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