Iraq: New government found after a year of deadlock

The Iraqi parliament on Thursday gave its approval to a new 21-member cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. Last year, parliament was politically deadlocked due to sharp differences between various Shia factions.

“The responsibility of our ministerial team has come on its shoulders at a time when the world is witnessing tremendous political, economic transformation and conflict,” the new prime minister said.

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Who is Al-Sudani?

Iraq’s new prime minister, 52-year-old al-Sudani, belongs to the pro-Iranian Muslim Coordination Framework, which is currently the largest group in parliament after an anti-Shiite faction of disaggregated lawmakers led by popular cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sudani replaces Mustafa al-Qademi, who endured widespread anti-government protests and served as interim prime minister after early elections.

The political stalemate since then has done little to assuage the anger of people in what is seen as widespread and rampant corruption.

Al-Sudani told parliament, “The epidemic of corruption that has affected all aspects of life is more deadly than the corona epidemic. It has created many economic problems, weakened the country’s right, increased poverty, created unemployment and poor state of public services.”

Challenges facing Iraq’s new prime minister

Iraq has faced conflict and mismanagement for years. The recent political deadlock has added to its woes. The country’s budget for this year has also not been approved, while oil income has also been significantly affected.

The lack of jobs and public services fuelled anti-government protests, the situation of which has worsened.

What does Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs Iraq with gestures, want?

Opposition from Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters has added to these challenges. In an attempt to put pressure on parliament, Shia clerics managed to bring thousands of their supporters to the streets. But when this did not succeed his objective, his supporters stormed the Parliament House several times and occupied it.

Al-Sadr’s popularity, especially in the working-class region known as the city of Sadr, and his opposition to al-Sudani’s close aide and former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki have raised fears that he may continue to disrupt Iraq’s weak political system.

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