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Iraq election: a 'birther' movement and comparisons to Nazi Germany

Ahead of Iraq election results due today, the main challenger to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – Ayad Allawi – has been criticized for his mother's Lebanese citizenship and his ties to the CIA, with some comparing an Allawi victory to the Nazi gains in 1930s Germany.

Iraq election: Secular Iraqi candidate Ayad Allawi speaks during an interview with reporters in Beirut, March 19.

Jamal Saidi/Reuters

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With Iraq election results expected in a matter of hours, secular Iraqi candidate Ayad Allawi has overcome extensive political maneuvering against him and emerged as the main challenger to incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, whose State of Law coalition is tied with Allawi's Iraqiya alliance in a race that's too close to call.

With only a few thousand votes now separating the Allawi and Maliki coalitions, the election has shown that US forces are preparing to withdraw from a deeply fragmented Iraq in which sectarian interests remain paramount. As Allawi's ticket has gained steam, Maliki and other rival Shiite Muslims have hinted that their followers would rise up rather than accept a winning bloc of newly emboldened Sunnis, secular Shiites, and factions that they say are linked to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

Before the March 7 parliamentary elections, Allawi's political enemies purged his ticket of anyone they considered a Baathist, and on election eve, they disqualified many of the replacement candidates, too. Then, they took to the airwaves and the Internet to label Allawi a CIA tool, a Saddam Hussein sympathizer, and a sellout to his fellow Shiites for allying with prominent Sunnis. Finally, they questioned whether his mother's Lebanese citizenship barred him from seeking the post of prime minister, a strategy akin to the "birther" movement against President Barack Obama.


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