Journalist and intelligence chief leads Iraqi government

The Iraqi parliament approved the composition of the new government on Thursday night, led by country’s intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kazimi. Despite the fact that part of the ministerial posts is still vacant, the prime ministers and new ministers took the oath.

Voting on the candidatures of the ministers of foreign affairs and oil was postponed. Parliament also rejected the candidatures of the ministers of trade, agriculture and the Minister for Migration.

Despite the fact that the cabinet is not yet complete, the approval of the government was a breakthrough. It took five months for Iraqi politicians to come to an agreement. Mustafa al-Kazimi became the third candidate for the post of prime minister since the beginning of the year.

In his speech to parliamentarians, Mustafa al-Kazimi promised to hold early parliamentary elections as soon as a new election law is passed. Previous elections were held in May 2018. He also promised to correct the negative consequences of the economic crisis in the country, distributing expenses more wisely and negotiating to restore Iraq’s share in oil exports. After the speech of the candidate for the prime minister, the deputies started voting for each minister.

The most difficult thing for the new prime minister was to get approval of the government he proposed among the Shiite parties, part of which is Tehran. The decision of Iraqi President Barham Saleh, which was taken a month ago, to instruct Mr. al-Kazimi to form a government, did not initially meet with the approval of Iran and its Iraqi allies, especially the Al-Fatah bloc, associated with the Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia. They accused the head of intelligence of having handed over to the Americans their commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed by the Americans along with Iranian general Kassem Suleimani at the airport in Baghdad in early January. But in the end, a compromise was found.

Mustafa al-Kazimy is 53 years old. In 1985, as a freshman student, he fled the country and returned there only in 2012. In exile, he mainly lived in the UK and the USA, and was engaged in human rights and journalistic activities. Published several books on human rights. Returning to Iraq, he finally received a law degree and continued to write articles for Al Monitor, an American online analytical publication on the Middle East. In 2016, he was appointed head of the National Intelligence Service, where one of his tasks was to deal with corruption in the department. Judging by the reviews of Iraqi experts, he succeeded.

Mr. Al-Kazimi’s journalistic and human rights experience may also be useful in finding a compromise with Iraqi street. Since October, protests against the government and difficult economic conditions have not subsided in the country. Protests led to the deaths of over 600 Iraqis, tens of thousands were injured. All previous candidates for the post of prime minister were rejected by the protest movement, which requires a change in the country’s political elites.

On the difficulties with the coordination of candidates – in the article “Kommersant” “The new Prime Minister of Iraq arranged both the United States and Iran.”

Marianna Belenkaya

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