Mustafa al-Kadhimi has managed to gain the confidence of the Iraqi parliament and became officially Iraq’s Prime Minister. Doubtlessly, this is an important event, not just because others have failed to form a new government since the resignation of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, but also because the name of al-Kadhimi, his political and professional background and the circumstances of the formation of his government warrant a deeper reading of the shifts in the regional and international landscapes.
At the beginning of the popular protests which have been sweeping Iraq for months, Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr took a hesitant and cautious stance from the protest movement, before publically declaring support to what he called the "revolutionaries," and calling for the resignation of outgoing Prime Adel Abdul-Mahdi. Although Al-Sadr was, in the beginning, wary of expressing an explicit anti-Iranian influence stance, the most obvious shift in his position came to light following the killing of Qasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January this year. After this incident, Al-Sadr’s rhetoric started to approach that of pro-Iran groups and made many references to whom he labeled as “infiltrators” and “saboteurs” among the demonstrators, and urged security forces to deal with those elements.
Although according to official figures and based on monitoring the media and following social media websites, Iraq continues to rank low on the list of countries affected by the coronavirus, compared to Iran, one of the epicentres for the spread of the virus, and considering the heavy transport and human movement traffic with it, all circumstances are fit to transform that global threat into an existential threat for the Iraqi people, no less dangerous than the overrun by ISIS of large areas of the country in 2014.
Shortly before its resignation at the end of November 2019 amid wide protest movement, the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi signed a framework agreement for economic cooperation with China that envisages the financing of major infrastructure projects from Iraqi oil exported to China. The agreement stirred a political, economic and even popular debate triggered by the government's failure to present the deal to the parliament and keeping some of its clauses untold. This paper sheds light on the context of the agreement, reviews some of its known clauses, addresses political positions thereon, and discusses claims that the deal actually serves Iran.
Following the elapse on 19 March 2020 of the statutory period given to the political blocs to nominate a prime minister and Iraq’s entry into a stage of constitutional vacuum, President Barham Saleh designated former Najaf governor and member of the Nasr Alliance Adnan al-Zurfi to form the provisional government. This was soon strongly rejected by some parties close to Teheran, in spite of their previous participation in the consultations of the seven-member committee in which the main parliamentary blocs were represented. This raises questions about the possible failure of the prime minister-designate to obtain Parliament’s confidence, similar to the previous designate Mohammed Allawi.
This paper sheds light on the behind-the-scenes circumstances of the designation of al-Zurfi, the positions of political blocs vis-à-vis his designation, and the chances of success of his designation.
Iraq's several-month long political stalemate is now back to square one after Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his candidacy for the post on March 1st. Soon after the announcement, Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi threatened a "voluntary absence" if no alternative to his government is found. Meanwhile, political blocs remain at loggerheads over a candidate who can fill the political vacuum and calm an angry street.
Following the defeat of ISIS in late 2017, Iraq has entered a new era. A number of key internal and external factors will determine Iraq’s future in this new epoch and will have a significant bearing on the security and stability of the entire region.
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