Middle East This Week: July 6, 2021

July 6, 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.

Traditional houses called Sanashels, dating from the 19th century, in Basra, Iraq. Iraq holds elections later this year. Photo credit: Flickr/David Stanley (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: July 25, 2021

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), part of the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, will hold elections on July 25, 2021. These follow elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the other part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The elections were originally due by April 2, 2021, but have been delayed.

The region is a geopolitical hotspot. Tensions with India (India and Pakistan have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir) are growing and both sides are upping their military presence. Moreover, the area is a centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road, which further inflames Pakistan’s relations with India.

Express Tribune Pakistan (July 7, 2021): Deployment of troops, police approved for ‘fair election’ in AJK

AP (July 7, 2021): Pakistan rejects naming of PM Khan as press freedom ‘predator’

Sammy Westfall, Washington Post (July 2, 2021): Pakistan’s prime minister embraces China’s policy toward Uyghurs in remarks on Communist Party centenary

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)

Iraq’s government had proposed holding snap parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. However, the tentative date has been pushed to October. The country is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections. Preparations are taking place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. More

Dr Zana Gulmohamad, The New Arab (July 7, 2021): October revolution: How Iraq’s protest movement parties are shaping the political debate

Sura Ali, Rudaw (July 5, 2021): More than 24 million voters registered for the upcoming elections

Shahyan Tahseen, Rudaw (July 3, 2021 – interview): Abadi enters election campaign with ‘project to save Iraq

The New Arab (July 1, 2021): Iraq PM reels in activists, journalists as candidates for upcoming election

Qatar Shura Council Elections: October 2021 (announced – date not set)

Qatar has announced that it will hold its first-ever parliamentary elections in October 2021. More

Qatar News Agency (July 1, 2021): Cabinet discusses draft law on Shura Council polls

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

Reuters (July 3, 2021): UN-backed Libya talks fail to reach consensus on elections

Abdulkader Assad, Libya Observer (July 3, 2021): Haftar threatens to “liberate Tripoli again” if Libyan elections fail

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Lebanon is due to hold general elections in May 2022, although some parties have called for early elections. The country has been in a political crisis and without a government since the port explosion in Beirut, in which 215 people died, 7,500 were injured, and 300,000 were left homeless. Moreover, Lebanon is in an economic crisis.

Tamara Qiblawi, Mostafa Salem and Reuters, CNN (July 6, 2021): Lebanon is days away from a ‘social explosion,’ prime minister warns

Ben Hubbard, New York Times (July 5, 2021): As Lebanon’s Crisis Deepens, Lines for Fuel Grow, and Food and Medicine Are Scarce: The World Bank said the financial crisis could rank among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s. The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value and unemployment has skyrocketed.

Baria Alamuddin, Arab News (July 4, 2021): Lebanese leaders can’t halt the oncoming electoral tsunami

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed indefinitely

The Palestinian Authority has postponed its long overdue elections for the legislature and president, which had been scheduled for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 16 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. 

Since the announcement of the delay, the conflict between Hamas and Israel reignited. Following 11 days of fighting, the parties reached a ceasefire on May 20. More

Joel Greenberg, BBC (July 2, 2021): Nizar Banat: Palestinians turn on leaders after activist’s death

Al Jazeera (July 2, 2021): A critic’s death turns eyes on the Palestinian Authority: Demands for accountability in Palestine are growing louder following the death of activist Nizar Banat in PA custody.

Omar H. Rahman, Foreign Policy (July 2, 2021): U.S. Support Is Keeping the Undemocratic Palestinian Authority Alive

Past Middle East Elections

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Iran held its next presidential election on June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. While Iran is far from a free country, and the elections are largely rigged, voters have in the past had a degree of choice. However, this year’s election was even more rigged than usual. The Guardian Council (which must approve all candidacies) allowed seven candidates on the ballot and mostly excluded moderates and establishment figures, among them a number of prominent names. This seemed to be calculated to clear the way for hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to win, and he did in fact win. More

Times of Israel (July 6, 2021): Iraqi militia chief boasts: Election of Raisi will boost Iran’s regional proxies

Sarbas Nazari, Al-Monitor (July 6, 2021): The bizarre case of ‘blank votes’ in Iran’s elections: In the face of an embarrassing record number of invalid votes cast in the latest elections, Iran’s leadership continues to either look the other way or scramble for a justification.

James Andre, France24 (July 6, 2021 – video): Presidential election in Iran: the reasons behind the low turnout

Reuters (July 1, 2021): Iran names hardline cleric as top judge amid calls for probe into past abuses

Algeria Snap Legislative Elections: June 12, 2021, followed by local elections later this year

Algeria held snap elections on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan did not actually satisfied the Hirak, who boycotted the elections and continue to protest. The absence of the Hirak, who are mostly secular, from the elections has paved the way for Islamist parties to become the main opposition. Ultimately, the FLN, the country’s long-dominant nationalist secular party, won the elections.

AP (July 5, 2021): Algeria president orders some protesters freed from jail

Farid Alilat, The Africa Report (July 2, 2021): Is Tebboune’s Algeria more repressive than Bouteflika’s?

Al Jazeera (June 30, 2021): Algeria names finance min Ayman Benabderrahmane as prime minister: Ayman Benabderrahmane, 60, has been tasked with forming a new government following parliamentary elections.

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: July 25, 2021

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: August 2021 (due)

Morocco Legislative, Provincial, and Local Elections: September 8, 2021

Iraq Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021

Qatar Shura Council Elections: October 2021 (proposed)

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 24, 2021

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Algeria Local Elections: November 2022 (due – earlier elections possible)

Egypt Local Elections: Due and discussed, but not scheduled

Oman Municipal Elections: Due, but postponed due to COVID-19

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed yet again, no date set

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