Posters of killed Popular Mobilization Forces fighters and Shiite military leaders are seen in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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Long beset by toxic divisions, Iraq seems to be growing even more fragmented ahead of national elections scheduled for May, with Iranian influence set to grow and the minority Sunnis seething as they fend for themselves in areas of the country shattered by the three-year war against Daesh (ISIS).If divisions among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds persist they could lead to more protracted talks to form a new government, potentially delaying the colossal task of rebuilding Iraq after Daesh overran nearly a third of the country in 2014, mostly Sunni towns, and then hung on as a U.S.-led coalition surrounded and bombarded the areas they controlled.Sunnis are worried that the Shiite influence mainly of the Iran-backed militias will grow in their areas if the Shiite-backed Sunni candidates win, and that will make it hard for them to come together in the future.Nearly 7,000 candidates will vie for 329 seats in Parliament the May 12 elections, the fourth since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that removed Saddam from power, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission.Sunni candidates are divided among three big alliances and up to seven small ones.
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