Sunday 20 November 2022 - 11:14

Political Forces in New Iraqi Cabinet’s Composition

Story Code : 1025771
Political Forces in New Iraqi Cabinet’s Composition
The first and most important factor is fulfilling reforms vows that is demanded by Iraqi nation and was promised by the premier. Dismissing some managers and keeping others is expressive of his resolution to make reforms and fight corruption from its roots in the administrative system of the country, to an extent that his shake-out drew internal and international attention and the apparent UN support. 

In the second cabinet session held on November 1, al-Sudani decided to cancel all orders and customs approvals issued by the previous government as well as the appointment and assignment of heads of departments outside the mandate of interim government of PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi. These contracts and appointments showed obvious signs of corruption in the previous government. 

Also, last week, the PM announced intention to enter the “forbidden zone” of the corruption cases and talked about a prerequisite for this plan: “We should first reform the institutions tasked with fighting corruption,” he said. The reforms started immediately. Head of Integrity Commission, an anti-corruption agency, Judge Alla Al-Saadi gave his place to Heydar Hanoun. 

In the second place, al-Sudani in his decisions considers security and stability and social peace and distancing the country from chaos and internal disputes, especially those sparked by Sadrist Movement which can bring back anti-government protesters to streets. 

Al-Sudani stressed that his government will not adopt the policy of eliminating government, security, or military personnel, neither will it take measures for political staffing in the bureaucratic system, but he prioritized the principles of reforms, fighting corruption, and the decisions of the judiciary in appointment of staff. 

Adopting this policy, al-Sudani has so far shown no interest in dismissing Sadrist-aligned managers except for some rare cases like Maysan province’s governor. Among Sadrist affiliates are Raed Juhi, the chief of staff for the PM, who was appointed interim chief of intelligence service, or the General Secretariat for the Council of Ministers, which is one of the most important executive posts and has major powers, remains in the hands of Hamid al-Ezi, a leader in Sadrist Movement. 

Sadrist Movement has a wide-ranging influence in most government institutions as it holds 300 posts in the classification of ‘special ranks’ which include ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors, heads of independent institutions, security agencies, and governors. 

A look at the composition of the al-Sudani government makes it clear that three leading camps, namely the Shiite Coordination Framework (SCF), the Al-Azm Coalition, and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have the major ministerial posts and this means that consensus-based government system is still adopted in the country. 

Currently, 12 ministries, out of 21 assigned ministries, are assigned to SCF, the most prominent of which are the ministries of interior, finance, oil, electricity, agriculture, sports, youth, labor, social affairs, health, water resources, and education. Six ministries have been assigned to the Sunni coalition led by Parliament Speaker Mohammad Al-Halbousi, which are defense, planning, culture, industry, trade, and higher education. Four have also been assigned to the KDP which include foreign affairs, justice, housing, and environment, and other ministries have been distributed among minorities, as the Turkmens have received two ministries for the first time, and the minister of defense is from them. 

Another interesting point is the presence in cabinet of prominent figures from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), including Ahmad al-Assadi, the head of Jund Al-Aemah Brigades, as the labor minister and Naeem al-Aboudi, a leader in Asaib Ahl Al-Haq resistance group, as the minister of higher education. In general, Fatah bloc holds 5 ministries, State of Law bloc 4 ministries, Badr Organization 2 ministries, Sadeqoun Movement 2 ministries, and Sanad parliamentary bloc 1 ministry. 

This composition did not appeal to some foreign sides, including the US that said it would not work with ministers aligned to the resistance camp. The Axios news website, citing two informed sources, reported that the American ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski told the new Iraqi PM Washington would not work with ministers and top “officials linked to militias” supported by Iran. 

In parallel with this American stance, the US-affiliated media outlets are also establishing the view that the recent government appointments from the SCF will cause challenges to al-Sudani in implementing the announced plans of the government and managing the security and military institutions under his command. 

In refuting these claims, which are aimed at putting the skids under the government’s moves to patch up economic and political conditions, it should be said that since the initial stage of cabinet formation, the SCF as the majority-holding bloc was careful about independence of action and decision of the government and composing a team of ministers in full compliance with the PM and his roadmap. 

Since the beginning, the SCF embarked on the strategy of presenting top choices to al-Sudani and giving him the right to freely make decisions to eliminate doubts about the cabinet being based on a quota system in its common sense in the national politics, and on the other hand consider competence, expertise, and integrity as public demands for those assigned to key posts. According Iraqi media, three ministries were granted to the PM for him to personally pick ministers without reference to the SCF. 

Ali al-Fatlawi, the head of Sadeqoun bloc, the political wing of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, had earlier said that the SCF had not demanded taking control of a security institution like the intelligence ministry or the National Security Council under the necessity for a proportionality between management positions and the parliamentary representation and weight. 

The range of dismissals and appointments by the new PM in the month since he assumed the office has been considerable and indicative of his independence and freedom of action. 

Al-Sudani removed top officials of office of his predecessor al-Kadhimi and appointed Ehsan al-Awadi as PM office chief, Rabee Nader as media chief, Ali Sharman Hachim as the head of Protocol Department in the PM office, and Ali al-Ameri as the PM's personal secretary. 

These dismissals also affected Hamid al-Shatri, the head of the National Security Agency, who was replaced with acting Abdulamir al-Shomari. Al-Sudani also removed Mashreq Abbas from the post of PM political adviser. He also removed Baghdad mayor Ammar Musa and Lieutenant General Hamid Mahdi al-Zuhairi, the commander of the Special Operations Forces responsible for Green Zone protection, and also two deputy foreign ministers. These are just a part of dismissals and appointments al-Sudani has done in recent weeks.