Is Mustafa al-Kadhimi the answer to Iraq’s problems?

After more than six months without proper political leadership, the Iraqi
parliament approved a new government with Mustafa al-Kadhimi as the prime
minister.

Even tough al-Kadhimi succeeded in forming an acceptable
government unlike his precursors, holding the position of prime minister is not
going to be an easy task, especially since Iraq is facing not one, but multiple
different crises with the spread of the corona virus or the plunging oil prices for
example.

Iraq without political leadership

On the 1st of October, large protests in iraq’s capital city Bagdad and the
surrounding southern provinces commenced to demand better employment
opportunities, public services and the end to the governments corruption. Later,
on the 26th of October even larger demonstrations began, where people would
demand the resignation of prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and the rest of the
government, and surprisingly, a couple of weeks later, prime minister Mahdi
resigned from his position at the end of November 2019, which was accepted by
the parliament on December 1st.

On February 1st 2020 Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi was appointed by iraq’s
president Salih with the task to build a new government. However, the
appointment of Allawi didn’t stop the protests from continuing. Protesters state
that Allawi belongs to the same sectarian power sharing political system they
are protesting against, and that they demand a politically independent figure as
prime minister.

Furthermore, the parliament failed to approve Allawi’s chosen cabinet and
shortly after that Allawi resigned just a month after he was selected for the post.
After Allawi’s resignation Iraq’s President Salih appointed another prime
minister-designate, Adnan al-Zurfi, without the consultation of the other parties
in the Parliament. However, just three weeks after his appointment, also al-Zurfi
withdrew from forming a new government due to the lack of support from the
opposition.

The appointment of Mustafa al-Kadhimi

After the withdrawal of Adnan al-Zurfi president Salih nominated Mustafa al-
Kadhimi, the director of the Iraqi national intelligence service, as Iraq’s new
prime minister-designate on April 9th, 2020. Since then al-Kadhimi successfully
formed a new government, that has been approved by the Iraqi parliament. In
general, Al-Kadhimi seems to be supported by most of the political parties and
even many iranian backed groups and militias, even though he is believed to be
very close to the United States of America, which was a limiting factor to some
of the previous candidates like al-Zurfi.

Since his appointment and approval by the parliament al-Kadhimi did stay
relatively quiet and not making significant changes within the country, however,
on July 31st, 2020 al-Kadhimi announced on national television, that on June 6th,
2021 early parliamentary elections will take place meeting a key demand of
many protesters. Plus, even the UNO (United Nations) praised al-Kadhimi’s announcement
because it will promote “greater stability and democracy”, although it still has to
be ratified by the iraqi parliament (12/09/2020).

Renewed demonstrations

However, many Iraqis are not supportive of the new government and Mustafa
al-Kadhimi, because he is, just like the previous nominees for the post as prime
minister, part of the ruling elite, that they (the protesters) were protesting against
in the first place. Therefore, shortly after the appointment of al- Kadhimi was
confirmed, new anti-government protests commenced making it clear that the
people are not satisfied with the new government. Nevertheless, it is an
undeniable fact, that the protest movement has lost its momentum mostly due to
the implementation of a curfew to fight the coronavirus pandemic, tough it’s not
unlikely that the protest movement will regain its followers to form large
demonstrations like the ones we did see in October of last year, if PM al-
Kadhimi and the newly formed government fails to make the “systematic
changes” the protesters are demanding.

Going forward

Naturally, being the head of a country like Iraq, with its diverse demographic,
difficult history and complex foreign relations is no easy task, especially
because of the lack of trust in politics given by the general public and up to
today it is still not apparent if al-Kadhimi’s government will stand against the
challenges of time.

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