NPR

Almost 7,000 Candidates Are Running For Election This Weekend In Iraq

Parliamentary elections this weekend will be the most complicated in Iraq's post-war history. Many people say they won't vote. "I voted three times, but nothing changed," says an unemployed man.
Iraqis wave flags at a campaign rally for the Fateh Alliance, a coalition that includes Iranian-supported paramilitaries, in Baghdad on May 7. Source: Ahmad Al-Rubaye

In Baghdad's Qishla square, where the British crowned Iraq's first king almost a century ago, a young paramilitary fighter in a camouflage tent shows off a tabletop model of Iraq's recent battles against ISIS.

"We wanted to show people where the battles were in their country and how we liberated these areas from the terrorist ISIS," says Neuman Ibrahim. At 20, the slight young man is a veteran fighter with the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahel al-Haq militia.

Ibrahim is part of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of mostly of Shiite militias that answered a religious call to fight ISIS four years ago. They are now nominally under command of the Iraqi government and are one of the factors that make Iraq's parliamentary elections on Saturday — the fourth since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 — the most complicated in the country's post-war history.

"God willing, everyone will vote, because we need

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