From the Document: "Iraq is preparing for a national election planned for October 10, 2021, roughly six months earlier than required, but later than originally proposed. Since ending the Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL) group's control of territory in Iraq in 2017, Iraqis have sought more accountable governance, improved service delivery, and greater economic opportunity. Security institutions have used force to contain and disperse mass demonstrations, and a shadowy campaign of violence by militia actors has sought to silence activists. Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi has led Iraq's government since May 2020, after months of political deadlock following the protestor-demanded resignation in late 2019 of his predecessor. Extensive negotiations leading to Kadhimi's nomination occurred during a period of serious escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions that played out through attacks in Iraq. Ongoing attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. and Coalition forces--and their Iraqi hosts--have tested Kadhimi's tenure. [...] Protests subsided in early 2020 amid COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] mitigation measures, but again spread and intensified in May 2021, with demonstrators insisting that the government identify and prosecute suspects in a series of assassinations and kidnappings since 2020 of protest leaders, activists, and a prominent security researcher. These incidents have intensified public scrutiny of Prime Minister Al Kadhimi's credibility and his government's ability to act against armed groups operating outside state control."
CRS In Focus, IF10404
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/