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article imageOp-Ed: New Iraqi PM designate faces rejection

By Ken Hanly     Mar 24, 2020 in Politics
Iraq is struggling to form an interim government that could prepare for early elections. However, the newest Prime Minister (PM) designate Adnan Zurufi may be the latest to fail as several pro-Iranian Shi'ite groups publicly reject him.
The rejection is not surprising
Although some MPs from Shi'ite blocs had already endorsed Zurufi, he is extremely pro-US making him unacceptable to many who want the US troops to withdraw as the Iraqi parliament had supported in a 170 to 0 vote earlier this year. He had been among authorities appointed by the US after their invasion and occupation in 2013. Shi'ite groups especially pro-Iranian ones are very much opposed to any pro-US group. However many others even Sunnis no doubt oppose him.
Supporters of the previous PM-designate Mohammed Allawi who was seen as a pro-Iran choice may also be anxious not to support a pro-US choice after their own favorite was rejected.
Zurfi surprised by his rejection by Shi'te blocs
Zurfi indicated
that a number of deputies from the blocs who rejected him had attended the ceremony at which he became the designated PM. Obviously they represented only a small majority of bloc members. Zurfi was advised to determine his position with Shi'ite blocs before agreeing to anything with the Kurds and Sunnis and before mobilizing groups that support him such as Saeroon, and some Sunnis and Kurds. Zurfi was told that his efforts would not bear fruit unless he had prior agreement with the main Shi'te blocs. The country needs an interim government as it faces even more crises as the price of oil dropped sharply and it also faces the coronavirus pandemic.
Anti-government protests make a solution difficult
Ideally a candidate should have the support of anti-government protesters but the protesters insist that present politicians are corrupt and too dependent on foreign powers be it the US or Iran. Yet without the support of either pro-Iranian or pro-US blocs no candidate would likely be successful in forming a cabinet. The best that can be hoped for is that the parties realize that they much reach a compromise to form an interim government that could hold early elections that would give a chance to ease the present stalemate.
Some try to bring back former potential candidate
There are reports that some are trying to nominate Naeem al-Suhail whom President Barham Saleh would have nominated except for last minute disagreement with Shi'ite leaders. Local Iraqi media claimed that there had been a meeting last Thursday night to discus al-Suhail's candidacy. However, the State of Law coalition led by former PM Nuri al-Maliki announced that he had a list of 170 members of parliament who would refuse al-Suhai as PM. This is more than half of the members of parliament.
There appear to be no candidates for PM the have majority support
State of Law spokesperson, Bahaaeddine al-Nouris claimed that political blocs in the al-Benaa alliiance and the Wisdom group held a meeting recently in which they announced they officially refused Zurfi as PM designate. The al-Beaa coalition is the largest parliamentary bloc. The al-Benaa bloc has over 170 MPs in the group whereas there are only 329 seats in parliament. Someone needs to be put forth who can garner the support of the main Shi'ite groups otherwise there will be just more failures.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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