Everything will be on the line when Iraqis cast their ballots on Saturday to choose their next prime minister — from rebuilding the economy to the resurgence of sectarian violence and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Iraq's last parliamentary elections were held in 2014. The past four years have seen Iraq lose a third of its territory to ISIS, then win it back in bloody fighting that left tens of thousands dead and nearly 6 million displaced. The country of 37 million saw huge swathes of its infrastructure destroyed as well as the expansion of Iranian influence and a failed Kurdish independence referendum last fall.
Meanwhile, improved relations with neighbors including Saudi Arabia and promises of investment coupled with higher oil prices have ushered in a sense of cautious optimism in different parts of the country.
A failure to effectively address problems like rampant corruption and a dearth of jobs — or a return to the sectarian tendencies of previous administrations that led to a backlash by marginalized groups and fueled the rise of ISIS — could plunge the war-weary country back into the violence from which it's only just started to recover.