Iraq’s Failure to Appoint a New Prime Minister Will Delay Eviction of US Forces
Acting PM resigns even as the PM-designate fails to secure votes, withdraws candidacy
Over the weekend, Iraq’s PM-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his candidacy, facing an inability to get parliament votes to allow him to form a cabinet. Acting PM Adel Abdul Mahdi is now following, with a Monday resignation.
Abdul Mahdi was the previous prime minister, and resigned months ago in the face of anti-government protests. He stayed on as an acting premier, pending the appointment of a replacement.
With little chance of a new government forming soon, Abdul Mahdi has confirmed his resignation, and is now calling on the government to hold early elections as soon as possible.
Iraq is in a tough position in that regard. Getting to early elections likely requires electoral law reforms, and another PM-designate to oversee matters. The protesters are likely to reject almost anyone, particularly after Allawi was offered. That could mean further dragging out the process.
Elected Prime Minister Mohammad Allawi has fallen due to the lack of a parliamentary quorum. The selection of his new cabinet, his mismanagement in dealing with various political parties, and his condescending attitude particularly towards Sunnis and Kurds brought him the support of only 108 MPs in Parliament last Sunday. He needed 165 out of 329 MPs.
Allawi’s biggest mistake was in counting on the support of Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, who had nominated him in the first place. Moqtada’s support made Allawi overconfident; he failed to engage with other political parties, thinking Moqtada’s support would be enough for him to govern. Sayyed Moqtada was indeed given the leadership of the Iraqi groups following the US drone assassination of Iranian brigadier general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes and their companions. The Iranian and Iraqi leaderships acknowledged Moqtada’s leadership at that moment in order to unite the Shia of Iraq. It was Moqtada who selected Allawi, and most Shia groups accepted the choice at the time.