ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – The Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia’s website, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), advertised its members heading to the polls early Saturday morning to drum up some last minute support in Iraq’s national elections.
Polling stations across the country opened their doors at 7 am local time, launching the first election since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS). More than 7000 candidates in 18 provinces are vying for one of the Iraqi Parliament’s 329 seats.
Early voting began on Thursday for members of Iraq’s security apparatus, including Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the Kurdistan Region, to vote ahead of May 12. However, early voting did not include the Hashd al-Shaabi fighters despite them having been folded into Iraq’s security apparatus.
The Hashd al-Shaabi’s official website posted pictures of its fighters heading to polling stations in six provinces, notably Salahaddin, Diyala, Nineveh, and Anbar.
Hadi al-Amiri, a popular and influential leader within the Hashd al-Shaabi, is running for Prime Minister in Iraq’s Parliamentary election as head of the Shia Badr Organization militia and its Fatih Coalition.
There is little doubt that the majority of the Hashd al-Shaabi fighters’ votes will go to Amiri and his party. There are reportedly some 100,000 Hashd al-Shaabi members eligible to vote.
Analysts and experts say that Amiri’s win in Iraq’s election would also be a significant victory for Iran in the region.
Earlier this week, a video showed boxes of campaign posters with millions of dollars stashed within purporting to have come from Iran in support of the former Iraqi Transportation Minister and current electoral candidate.
Amiri started the Badr Organization in 1982 in Iran as the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.