The date for the 2018 Iraqi Parliamentary Elections is quickly approaching. As a result, the Iraqi authorities are boosting their security procedures in order to protect the citizens throughout the Iraqi provinces.
The Iraqi Security Forces are increasing their operations nationwide in preparation for the May 12th Iraq parliamentary election, in which more than 7,000 candidates are competing for 328 seats.
There are fears that remaining ISIS militants and sleeper cells, who have fallen back to fighting as an insurgency since the formal declaration of defeat against the militant group last December, will attempt to carry out attacks across Iraq to subvert the electoral process.
ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir released a voice recording at the beginning of the year threatening to assassinate the election’s candidates, as well as any citizen who turns out to vote. Since the start of the election campaign on the 10th April, three candidates have been murdered by militants, including Ammar Kahiya who was killed by a car bomb at the end of April. A further nine candidates have survived assassination attempts made against them.
However, the Iraqi Security Forces say they are ready for any emergency on election day and taken a number of precautions to ensure the safety of Iraq’s population as they cast their vote.
“We have increased the intelligence efforts to follow up and prosecute those who try to tamper with security or order during the election period,” said an Iraqi security official. “There will also be a security effort from the air by the Iraqi Air Force.”
On Wednesday, the Iraqi authorities announced the closure of Iraq’s borders for 24 hours on election day. Soldiers belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Unit’s First Brigade have increased their patrols of the Syria-Iraq border to ensure that no militants that are currently active in the eastern Syrian desert are able to cross into Iraqi territory. In addition, airports will also be closed for the 24 hour period, with the Iraqi airspace reserved for patrols by the Iraqi Air Force.
Despite the security concerns, the people of Iraq are defiantly optimistic that the historic vote will go ahead without any issues, including in Mosul, which was recaptured from ISIS militants less than a year ago. “Every resident of Mosul must choose the right person to represent them in the Iraqi Parliament,” said one Mosul resident. “The rights of the residents of Mosul were lost for three years [during the ISIS occupation]. Mosul and its residents must obtain their rights and fear nothing.”