Middle East This Week: March 9, 2021

March 9, 2021

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in the greater Middle East and North Africa, usually posted on Tuesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

The Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph in Baghdad, one of the places where Pope Francis said mass on his historic visit to Iraq this month. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Aziz1005 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Israel Snap Parliamentary Elections (Take 4): March 23, 2021

On March 23, 2021, Israel will hold its fourth general election in two years after the collapse of the unity government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. More

Barak Ravid, Axios (March 10, 2021): Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu takes his election campaign to the UAE

Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post (March 9, 2021): Israel elections: From vaccines to Elvis, the TV campaign ads are back

Maya Margit, The Media Line (March 9, 2021): The Pandemic Has Shifted Election Dynamics in Israel

Anchal Vohra, Foreign Policy (March 8, 2021): Israel Is the Arab World’s New Soft Power

Ilan Ben Zion, AP (March 7, 2021): With many vaccinated, Israel reopens economy before election

Andrew Parasiliti, Elizabeth Hagedorn, and Joe Snell, Al-Monitor (March 3, 2021): The Takeaway: Iran looms over Israel’s March 23 elections

Syria Presidential Election: April or May 2021

Syria is due to hold a presidential election between April 16 and May 16, 2021. The election comes in the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis. Elections under the regime of Bashar al-Assad are widely considered to be a sham. More

AFP (March 9, 2021): Syria’s Assad set for election win 10 years after start of war

Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor (March 4, 2021): Syria, after 10 years of conflict: No war and no peace

Liz Sly, Washington Post (March 4, 2021): He told the world about his brutal torture in Syria. Then, mysteriously, he went back.

Palestinian Authority Legislative Elections: May 22, 2021 and Presidential Election: July 31, 2021

The Palestinian Authority has scheduled long overdue elections for the legislature and president for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 14 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. More

James Rothwell, The Telegraph (March 9, 2021): Yasser Arafat’s nephew issues challenge to Mahmoud Abbas ahead of first Palestinian elections since 2006

Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel (March 9, 2021): Hamas leadership vote turns into dramatic standoff as Sinwar seeks reelection

Elior Levy, Ynet/AFP (March 9, 2021): Tight election battle for Hamas leadership in Gaza

AFP (March 9, 2021): Hamas to elect new Gaza chief this week, sources say

Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (March 9, 2021): Palestinian Elections: Crisis deepens as Fatah threatens dissidents

Reuters (March 7, 2021): Abbas Battles Fatah Party Discord ahead of Palestinian Elections

Patrick Kingsley, New York Times (March 5, 2021): She Was a Star of New Palestinian Music. Then She Played Beside the Mosque.

Nathan J. Brown and Zaha Hassan, Carnegie Endowment (March 4, 2021): Slightly Dialing Back the Cynicism About Palestine’s Upcoming Elections

Daoud Kuttab, Al-Monitor (March 3, 2021): Decree on election court removes one obstacle for Palestinian elections

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: June 6, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)

Iraq’s government has proposed holding snap parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. However, parliament still has to pass a new electoral law and allocate a budget for the elections in order for them to actually happen. Therefore, the date remains tentative. Iraq is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections. Preparations are taking place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. More

Dilan Sirwan, Rudaw (March 9, 2021): Elections being held on time is ‘uncertain’ : Iraqi MP

Reuters (March 8, 2021): Iraq PM urges national dialogue after ‘love and tolerance’ of Pope visit

Jane Arraf, New York Times (March 8, 2021): Pope Francis Ends Historic Trip at a Critical Moment for Iraq

Miriam Berger, Washington Post (March 6, 2021): Why the pope’s visit matters for Iraq’s Christians

Marc Santora, New York Times (March 5, 2021): In Pictures: Pope Francis in Iraq

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Iran has scheduled its next presidential election for June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. More

Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg (March 7, 2021): Head of Engineering Giant Owned by Iran’s Guard Eyes Presidency

Atlantic Council (March 5, 2021): Multiple elections could boost hardline victories in Iran

American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats (March 4, 2021): Iranian Presidential Election Tracker: Reformists show signs of fracturing

Sarbas Nazari, Al-Monitor (March 4, 2021): Will Iran’s Reformists ‘hire’ a candidate for presidency?

Sina Azodi, Atlantic Council (March 1, 2021): Saeed Mohammad: The young face of the IRGC weighing his political options

Morocco Legislative and Local Elections: Summer/Fall 2021 (due)

Morocco is due to hold legislative, provincial, and local elections in fall and summer 2021. However, the three biggest political parties have called for a delay due to COVID-19. Local media are reporting that a source has indicated that all three sets of elections will take place on a single day in September 2021, but no date has been confirmed yet. The elections are taking place in the context of discontentment and disillusionment. More

Adel Abdel Ghafar, Brookings Institution (March 9, 2021): The arrest of Maati Monjib and the continued retreat of human rights in Morocco

Maan Movement, Moroccan World News (March 6, 2021): The Vote of Moroccans Living Abroad: Unleashing the Potential

Nina Koslowski, The Africa Report (March 5, 2021): Women’s rights: Moroccan politicians take a stand on law against extramarital sex

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: December 24, 2021 (tentative)

Libya’s national elections are overdue and have been postponed indefinitely due to the political crisis and civil war. However, in November 2020, Libyan stakeholders participating in UN-sponsored talks proposed December 24, 2021 for presidential and parliamentary elections. More

Mirette Magdy, Bloomberg (March 10, 2021): Libya Lawmakers Approve First Unified Government Since 2014

Al Jazeera (March 9, 2021): Libyan parliament meets for key vote on endorsing interim gov’t

Afghanistan Parliamentary Elections: October 2023 and Presidential Election: September 2024 (due – early elections possible)

Afghanistan held long-delayed parliamentary elections in October 2018, marred by violence and administrative problems. In order to fix problems from the legislative elections, the presidential election has been delayed twice. Ashraf Ghani ultimately won re-election in a very tense vote and a tense four months in between the election and the final declaration of results. The election took place amid attacks by the Taliban, which had ordered Aghans not to vote.

Daily Sabah (March 9, 2021): US proposes interim gov’t run Afghanistan until new polls

Hamid Shalizi and Charlotte Greenfield, Reuters (March 6, 2021): Afghan president says ready to discuss elections to advance talks with Taliban

Past Middle East Elections

Pakistan Senate Elections (Indirect): March 3, 2021

Pakistan held indirect Senate elections on March 3. Prime Minister Imran Khan had oped his allies would gain a majority in the upper house, especially since a majority of the electors – MPs and provincial legislators – belong to his PTI. However, in a secret ballot, many crossed party lines and voted for opposition candidates, thus denying Khan his majority.

Asad Hashim, Al Jazeera (March 6, 2021): Pakistani PM Khan wins vote of confidence amid opposition boycott

Haroon Janjua, DW (March 4, 2021): Pakistan: Senate election deals a blow to Imran Khan

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