Iraqis to vote in ballot marked by growing social fractures

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Elections in Iraq next month are being held early in response to mass protests against the government in 2019, but there is scant evidence the vote will improve matters in a country where powerful armed groups still hold sway. Iraqis crave drastic change after years of conflict and corruption following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. A brutal war to fight off Islamic State that ended in 2017 was followed two years later by protests against the ruling elite in which hundreds died. And as the United States seeks to disengage, Iran retains deep influence in one of the region’s main oil-p…

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