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Iraqi election upset could increase pressure for U.S. troop withdrawal

Iraqi electoral commission employees examine electronic counting machine print-outs in the central holy city of Najaf on May 13, 2018.
Iraqi electoral commission employees examine electronic counting machine print-outs in Najaf on May 13, 2018. Photo: Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images

Following Iraq's parliamentary elections on Saturday, the political coalition of Muqtada al-Sadr — the firebrand nationalist Shiite cleric — has emerged as the surprising frontrunner, followed by Fatah, an alliance of leaders of Shiite paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran.

Why it matters: If the initial results are borne out, the new government will likely be far less favorable to the U.S. The next prime minister will have the power to call for a U.S. withdrawal, and the two leading coalitions have deep ties to armed groups that fought the American presence over the last decade.