May 5, 2014 | VOA News

Iraqi Elections Coming Amid Surge of Violence

On April 30, Iraq will hold its first national election since U.S. military forces withdrew from the country in 2011. The voting will take place amid a surge of bloody violence and sectarian strife that has claimed thousands of lives.

In central Baghdad, posters of the candidates are everywhere. Many Iraqis are filing their registration papers to receive their voter ID cards.

Middle East expert Jonathan Schanzer said, “He [Nouri al-Maliki] has found a way to get a tighter and tighter grip on power. The expectation is that he will really emerge as the only game in town.”

Security concerns

Because of security concerns, voting is not expected to take place in Fallujah, in restive Anbar province. Hardline jihadists inspired by al-Qaida have taken over much of the city since January.

The Bagdad government has been striking back, but mostly on the outskirts of the city.

“And so the question is how much of a foothold are they going to gain? How much will the state of Iraq push back against these groups, or will they allow these areas of weak central authority to become overrun and remain in the hands of these jihadi groups?” asked Schanzer:


Al Qaeda