ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Taking questions in a press conference at the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said Iraq’s controversial May 12 election was “pretty conclusive” and that he hopes his administration will have good relations with the next Baghdad government.
Rudaw’s correspondent Alla Shali asked Trump what role the US is playing in the lumbering process of building a new government in Baghdad.
“I hope we get along well with Iraq. We’ve certainly spent a great fortune in Iraq. And many, many lives, thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives, if you think, on both sides, which I always think of both sides not just our side. They had an election and I hope we are gonna be able to get along and we’ll see how that goes,” said Trump.
“We’ve already been talking to people who have won the election. I was not in favor of that war. I was very much against that war. I never thought it was a good thing, but that’s another deck of cards that I inherited and we’ll do the best we can with it.”
“The election was pretty conclusive and we'll speak with those who won and see what happens,” he added.
The party that emerged with the most votes in the May 12 election was the Sayirun alliance of communists, secularists, and followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – whose Mahdi Army fought with US occupation forces during Iraq’s civil war.
Second place went to the Hashd al-Shaabi-backed Fatih alliance, which has close ties with Iran. This also causes the US discomfort, as the Trump administration is trying to build a global consensus against Iran.
America’s preferred candidate, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, did not perform as expected. His Nasr (Victory) coalition came in third place.
Talks are still ongoing to determine the shape and spirit of the new government. Abadi continues to run a caretaker government for the time being.
The US hailed the election at the time as a great success, largely because polling day was not marred by a large-scale terrorist attack. Amid accusations of fraud, a record low turnout, continued sectarian divisions, and an outcome that does not seem to reflect US interests in the region, Trump seems happy for now to “see how that goes”.