May 25, 2018 / 7:29 PM / a month ago

Bombs target Iraq communist party headquarters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two homemade bombs targeted the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party, which is part of an alliance with cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that won Iraq’s parliamentary election, a party official and security sources said.

The explosive devices were hurled into the garden of the building in Baghdad on Friday and did not cause any casualties, said Jassim Helfi, a senior member of the party.

He described the incident as a message from those opposed to the Sairoon bloc’s calls for reforms in Iraq. Sairoon has promised to end corruption and foreign interference in Iraq’s affairs.

Sadr scored a surprise victory in the election by promising better services and tapping growing resentment with Iran and what voters say is its support for a corrupt political elite.

The cleric himself cannot become prime minister because he did not run in the election, though his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations on forming a new government.

Sadr reached out to dispossessed Shi’ites and marginalized Sunnis, and restored links with Sunni neighbours while keeping Iran at bay.

The nationalist cleric’s success could be a setback for Iran, which has steadily increased its influence in Iraq - its most important ally in the Middle East - since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Before the election, Iran publicly stated it would not allow Sadr’s bloc to govern in Iraq, with which it shares a border.

Reporting by Michael Georgy; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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