Middle East This Week: July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

A weekly review 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.

Residents of Pakistan-administered Kashmir marching against India’s actions in 2019. Azad Jammu and Kashmir held regional elections on July 25, 2021. Photo credit: Voice of America (public domain)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Jordan Local Elections: By September 2021 (due)

Jordan is due to hold local elections by September 2021. These follow parliamentary elections, which happened on November 10, 2020. Turnout was low, and both women and Islamist candidates saw poor results. Subsequently, King Abdullah II announced a new high-level committee to enact political reforms. This is not the first such effort in Jordan, and past attempts at change have been a disappointment to those who hope for reform, but it could be promising. More

Jordan Times (July 25, 2021): Election subcommittee approves amendments to draft election law

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

Iraq plans to hold early elections on October 10, postponed from the original proposal of holding them on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. 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

The New Arab (July 27, 2021): Iraq election boycott grows over fraud, security fears

Osama Al Sharif, Jordan Times (July 27, 2021): Kadhimi’s political survival hinges on outcome of Washington trip

AP (July 27, 2021): Biden: US will end military combat mission in Iraq by end of year

Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz (July 27, 2021): With Shake-up in Kurdish Party, Iran’s Influence in Iraqi Kurdistan Gets a Boost

International Crisis Group (July 26, 2021): Iraq’s Tishreen Uprising: From Barricades to Ballot Box

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

David Harding, The Independent (July 29, 2021): Qatar announces biggest electoral reform in history, year ahead of World Cup

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

Robert F. Worth, New York Times (July 30, 2021): Qaddafi’s Son Is Alive. And He Wants to Take Libya Back.

Nate Wilson and Elie Abouaoun, Al Jazeera (July 28, 2021): Libya’s new interim government is facing an arduous task: The country’s path to elections and sustainable peace is full of unspoken obstacles

Reuters (July 27, 2021): Libya to return to ‘square one’ if elections delayed: Saleh

Francesco Bongarrà, Arab News (July 26, 2021): Libyan election talks get underway in Rome

Abdulkader Assad, Libya Observer (July 25, 2021): Haftar loyalists launch his Libya president elections campaign

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.

Chloe Cornish, Financial Times (July 29, 2021): Lebanon’s year from hell: a diary – Last year’s explosion should have been a nadir. Instead it was the start of a further descent into chaos

Nader Durgham, Washington Post (July 26, 2021): Businessman Najib Mikati becomes Lebanon’s latest prime minister designate

Tunisia Presidential and Legislative Elections: September/October 2019

Tunisia began transitioning to democracy in 2011, amid the Arab Spring protests, and in 2019, held the third national elections since the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  Political outsider and populist Kais Saied won the presidency. The results indicated a rejection of the main political parties and post-Ben Ali political ideologies (Islamism and secular liberalism). However, some concerns lingered about the democratic process.

This month, Saied dismissed the government, a move that some deemed a coup.

Charu Sudan Kasturi, OZY (July 28, 2021): The Butterfly Effect: Death of a democratic dream?

Kaouther Larbi, AFP (July 28, 2021): Tunisia’s largest party calls for elections, warns against ‘autocratic regime’

Al Jazeera (July 28, 2021): Tunisia tries to reassure as Ennahdha presses for early elections

Hans von der Burchard and David M. Herszenhorn, Politico (July 27, 2021): EU urges Tunisia to protect democracy but skirts criticism

Colm Quinn, Foreign Policy (July 27, 2021): Global Powers Shrug as Opponents Denounce ‘Coup’ in Tunisia

Vivian Yee, New York Times (July 26, 2021): Tunisia’s Democracy Verges on Collapse as President Moves to Take Control: The effort by President Kais Saied threatened the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring protests a decade ago, and his opponents called it a coup.

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian (July 26, 2021): Kais Saied: the ‘Robocop’ president accused of launching Tunisia coup: Law professor was surprise 2019 election winner and now finds himself at centre of political crisis

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

Jonathan H. Ferziger, Foreign Policy (July 29, 2021): Will Abbas get tripped up by the Palestinian diaspora? Palestinians abroad are looking beyond the aging leader.

Abdel Raouf Arnaout, Axios (July 28, 2021): Palestinian President Abbas to reshuffle government amid growing backlash

Past 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, held 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.

Umair Jamal, The Diplomat (July 29, 2021): Elections in Pakistan’s Kashmir Highlight Domination by Mainland Parties: The election campaign saw little discussion of Pakistan’s territorial claims over Indian-administered Kashmir.

Dunya News (July 29, 2021): PML-N announces countrywide protest after alleging rigging in AJK polls

Zia Ur Rehman, TRT World (July 27, 2021): Fragmented democracy: Elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir

Roshan Mughal, Voice of America (July 27, 2021): PM Imran Khan’s Party Wins Elections in Pakistani-Controlled Kashmir

Tariq Naqash, Dawn (July 25, 2021): Counting of votes underway in violence-marred AJK elections; 2 PTI workers killed, 5 policemen beaten up

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: September 2021 (due)

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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