Moments after Barham Saleh was declared president of the Republic of Iraq , it was announced on October 2, Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister –designate and tasked him with forming a new government , in rapid development after a period of stagnation lasted about five months since the parliamentary elections in Iraq. In light of the apparent political division in the Iraqi arena, Abdul Mahdi’s task does not seem easy or paved, especially with the tension in the region between the United States and Iran, making the policy of holding the stick from the middle as difficult as many believe.
Many see Abdul Mahdi chosen because of his economic background; which means that betting on his government will be a bet on economic reform, reconstruction, and better services. These are serious challenges, for a country that has not yet fully emerged from the war on ISIS, which has left vast devastation in large parts of the country. Oil price fluctuations and the politicization of the oil market threaten the country in its primary source of income.
The new Iraqi government, which was formed on the second of this month after a long wait of more than five months, faces a series of great and severe challenges. The most prominent of these are the popular protests in the province of Basra and other cities, and the ability of the new government to deal with US sanctions against Iran especially after the launch of the second package of US economic, diplomatic and military sanctions on November 4, and Iraq’s stance on the seriousness of its commitment which puts Abdul Mahdi in front of challenges that were described as complex in front of this government on which Iran had the upper hand to enable consensus on it among Iraqi parties , represented the Iraqi components in the Iraqi Council of Representatives. The other challenge is to issue detailed instructions regarding the Popular Crowed Law, the position towards the cross-border factions and factions not under the brigades of Popular crowed Forces , as well as the position towards Kurdish armed factions in northern Iraq and from non-Iraqi nationalities. As well as how to reconstruct the liberated areas from the terrorist organization ISIS, and the possibility of the Iraqi government of restoring the people’s trust in it.
The most important challenges facing the government in the next phase are the rampant corruption in all parts of the state, the spread of weapons in the hands of the militias, the clans that impose their control over the Iraqi street more than the ability of the state, the intersection of parties and distrust among the components of the political process. And the nature of the ideological and intellectual affiliation of government members. One of the most serious challenges that have been a major cause of the delay in Iraq’s economic growth is the drying up of the Mafayats and the economic committees of the parties, the fight against corruption to become a dangerous institution and a stumbling block to any attempt at reform, bureaucracy and imposing the security for a safe environment and encouraging to investment. One of the external challenges facing the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi, the nature of regional and international interventions in the Iraqi issue, and US-Iranian intersections in the Iraqi scene come at the forefront as a whole. The regional situation and the differences between Washington and Tehran will be a priority for Adel Abdul Mahdi, because it is a complex crisis and its solutions are out of date or ready and need a new international situation.
Abdul Mahdi is expected to take advantage of the challenges he faces from long political experience, good relations with most of Iraq’s political constituents, and the fact that he is a man of compromise, not a man of confrontations, placing him outside local, regional and international polarization. In addition to having good relations with the most Sunni political forces, Abdul-Mahdi has historical relations with Kurdish politicians; which may contribute to improving the relationship between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region, which was marked by tension during the periods of Maliki and Abadi, Baghdad alone does not bear – certainly – its responsibility, after the referendum crisis in the independence of Kurdistan, and the subsequent repercussions, such as the redeployment of the Iraqi army in Kirkuk and the disputed areas (September – October 2017).
On the regional level, Abdul Mahdi is a consensus person, as is the case at the domestic level. It was not surprising that his name was re-presented to the premiership. He had already been put forward during the crisis of 2010, after the victory of the Iraqi List, led by Allawi, in the first place, but Maliki took over as prime minister , pushed by Iran, which pressed for a broader coalition that enables the latter to form the government , In the context of fierce regional rivalries and conflicts in the region, it is not known that a specific regional party opposes it; it is not calculated on the Iranian line (unlike al-Maliki and al-Amiri), and at the same time he does not pursue policies that oppose Iranian intentions. He is also acceptable to the US, though not the US candidate for the post of prime minister. In addition to this , Adel Abd Mahdi strong ties with international organizations that he established when he was minister of oil and finance .In 2004, he ran the Iraq file at the Paris Club to reschedule its debts; which means that perhaps he would be the best choice for prime minister at this stage, which is expected to see an escalation in the US-Iranian conflict, especially in Iraq.
This government is seen as the last chance for politicians to prove their good intentions in front of the people, pointing out that the government of Abbadi, despite the completion of the file of the existence of ISIS and to stop the advance of Massoud Barzani, but its failure in the file of services and provide employment opportunities, which has direct contact with the life of the citizen, was the reason for the reluctance of citizens to participate in the elections. In the view of the observers of the Iraqi issue that the harmonious alignment of the three presidencies could be a conduit for agreements serving Iraq and the region, because Adel Abdul Mahdi was nominated as an independent, and has a long experience in politics and economy, a professional and able to deal with the darkest circumstances .Therefore his nomination came as representative of all Iraqis, and was accepted by Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, a harmony that was previously absent in the political process, and a new and important transformation.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies