A new government in Iraq after more than a year of political crisis

A new government in Iraq after more than a year of political crisis

10-28-2022

A new government in Iraq after more than a year of political crisisAfter a year of tension that reached sometimes violent violence, Iraq finally got, on Thursday, October 28 (October 28), a new government after Parliament gave confidence to Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani and his team, who must now face many political and economic challenges.

This green light for the new government constitutes a decisive station in the path of a slow exit from a political crisis that Iraq has suffered for more than a year, that is, since the legislative elections in October 2021.

But finally, deputies in parliament , located in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, voted by an absolute majority for the new government, according to an official statement issued by Al-Sudani’s office.

Deputies voted by a majority of half plus one of 329 deputies, on the ministerial program and then on 21 ministers by show of hands inside the parliament hall in the capital during the session in which 253 deputies participated, according to the Parliament Information Service.

The new government consists of 12 Shiite ministers, the majority of whom are nominated by the coordination framework, six Sunni ministers, two Kurdish ministers, and one minister for minorities, while two ministries from the Kurdish component’s share are still under negotiation and have not yet been filled. Three women hold positions in the new government.

Al-Sudani, 52, succeeds Mustafa Al-Kazemi, who took over as prime minister in May 2020.

Prior to the start of the session, Al-Sudani said in a speech to Parliament, “Our ministerial team will address the responsibility at this stage in which the world is witnessing very large political and economic transformations and conflicts.”

Al-Sudani, a governor and former minister from the traditional Shiite political class, was commissioned on October 13 to form the government by the new President of the Republic, Abdul Latif Rashid, immediately after his election. He is the candidate of the pro-Iranian political forces involved in the coordination framework.

During the session, opposition MP Alaa Al-Rikabi of the extension movement emanating from the Tishreen protests expressed his objection to the new government, which led to a quarrel inside the hall. But the session continued after that.

After the session, al-Rikabi told reporters, “For two decades, the same parties in power have been in harmony with each other… They form quota governments that have destroyed the country.” He added, “We are against this government, and it was born… and a political opposition was born with it in the Iraqi parliament.”

Relationship with the chest

The Sadrist movement, the main opponent of the coordination framework, was not represented in this government, while its leader, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, had previously pledged that he would not participate in it.

During the past year, the differences and tension between the two sides of the crisis, the Sadrist movement and the coordination framework, escalated dramatically. In late August, bloody violence was evident in the street, in which more than 30 al-Sadr supporters were killed in clashes with the army and the Popular Mobilization Forces, an alliance of armed factions that have become affiliated with the state and represented a large part in the coordination framework.

Professor at the University of Baghdad and head of the Center for Political Thinking, Ihsan Al-Shammari, believes that “the relationship with Al-Sadr is the most important challenge for the government of Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, given that Al-Sadr gave pre-positions towards a government formed by the framework, towards the candidate himself.”

From here, Al-Shammari explains that Al-Sudani and the coordinating framework should “establish quick bridges with the leader of the Sadrist movement” and give them “guarantees that are reassurances on the issue of the requirements of the leader of the Sadrist movement in relation to the reform process and even holding early elections.”

If this does not happen, “the challenge will be very great” and may lead to an “extremist reaction by the leader of the Sadrist movement and even his followers”, i.e. resorting to the street again.

Al-Sudani included in the program of his new government, the clause “amending the parliamentary elections law within three months and holding early elections within a year,” one of the demands of al-Sadr, who says he is against the quota system that has dominated the way of government in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

political and social crises

But what Iraqis expect from this government is a response to the political and social crises they are experiencing.

This country, which has enormous wealth in oil, suffers from a deterioration in the electricity network, while every four young people out of 10 are unemployed and a third of the population is poor.

In a statement, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq welcomed the granting of confidence to the new government, warning of “serious challenges that require decisive measures” awaiting it, such as “addressing corruption” and “the effects of climate change.”

Also, the US Ambassador to Baghdad Alina Romanovsky, in a tweet, congratulated the new government for gaining confidence and said, “We look forward to working with the new government to advance our common goals during this pivotal stage for Iraq and its people.”

In his program, Al-Sudani seeks to “address the phenomenon of unemployment and create job opportunities for young people of both sexes” and “reform the economic and financial sectors, especially the agricultural, industrial and banking sectors, and support the private sector.”

The new prime minister must also deal with the 2022 budget that has not yet been approved, allowing the benefit of 87 billion dollars of foreign currency reserves, the majority of which are from oil revenues, that lie in the central bank, awaiting a new government.

These are real challenges in a country that suffers from chronic corruption and nepotism that dominates the joints of the state, while Iraq is also facing a severe drought crisis, with the decline in rain and river levels, affecting the lives of the population.

Iraqi political analyst Ali Al-Baydar expects that the popular anger, and the anger of Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters, will be manifested in “joint protests” between these and the “October Movement protesters”, which shook Iraq in October 2019.

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