Iraqis have been very pleased with the new way in electing the three presidencies: Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohamed al-Halboussi, President of the Republic Barham Salih, and assign Adil Abdul Mahdi , the task of forming a government. New, encouraging and positive spaces have charted the peaceful, safe and smooth delivery of the State’s great responsibilities. Although Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi is about to announce the formation of his government after he said he intends to submit the names of his ministers next week, the package of questions that preoccupy Iraqis today related to his ability to overcome the challenges he faces .
Will the new leadership be able to give hope to the people and restore the lost dignity? Challenges are big and internal pressures and external interventions are bigger . No one expects the “new captain” to achieve miracles in the near future, but the people are waiting for serious work to reform the political system and promote stability – one of the important pillars in the path of economic recovery and take a package of reforms in the economic, social, administrative and security fields and to reform the infrastructure and improve the services sector including the provision of potable water and electricity, health, education and social security, job creation, reform of the political system and addressing the geographical change occurring in the regions of Nineveh and Kirkuk plains .
The issue of restoring the prestige of the state and the military establishment is a high priority and a challenge to the prime minister after the decline of its role due to the widespread influence of the popular crowd and its leaders allied to Iran in the political and security decisions. The political wings of several popular factions received seats in the May 2018 elections. Most of these factions owe the “legitimate” allegiance to the Supreme Leader( Murshed ) Ali Khamenei and are organizationally linked to the Quds Force, which trains, funds and arms more than 40 factions out of the 71 factions forming a popular crowd. As the Iraqi constitution does not allow Iraq to be used as a starting point for any cross-border operations, Abdul Mahdi will face the challenge of bringing back popular factions fighting on Syrian territory alongside the regime’s forces as commander-in-chief of the armed forces that the body of popular crowed is linked to his office directly . Any government seeks to disarm the armed factions will face the dilemma of intellectual affiliation and dual loyalties between national loyalty to the state and other loyalty to religious bodies such as the Iraqi religious authorities or the reference of Supreme Leader (Murshed) Ali Khamenei.
The new prime minister will face a series of challenges where the basic structure of the state and the conditions for the selection of ministerial portfolios according to the political quotas will lack the solid ground on which he stands on to confront these challenges and overcome them over the next four years if Abdul Mahdi has the ability to continue and does not submit his resignation.
Another important priority of the new government is to address daily problems and economic crises and to hold genuine national reconciliation among the components of Iraqi society to avoid Iraq entering a state of security chaos. The success of the new prime minister depends on his ability to establish security and stability and end the environment that attracts the growth of radical groups in western and northwestern Iraq through an efficient program to restore confidence between the federal government and the Sunni community and to address the crisis of IDPs and forcibly displaced persons as well as to disclose about the fate of several thousand of people who are forcibly disappeared during the operations of restoring the cities from the terrorist ISIS .
One of the priorities of the new government is the fight against corruption, in which its rates , according to Transparency International reports, have reached in 2004 the 129th place out of 145 countries , and in 2010 was ranked 175 out of 178 countries. In 2017, was ranked 169out of 180 This is in addition to reducing the monopoly on the country’s resources and wealth and to lead the country out of the cycle of failure and continuous crises in the country’s joints, and work to build a healthy economy and to pursue a proper approach to repairing what has been destroyed, not relying on the shadow economy that has created the worst in the distribution of wealth and income, and the corruption that generated unemployment, so that the role of the private sector was declined in national production.
Among the most important and complex challenges are drawing new paths to the relationship between the KRG and the federal government, resolving disputes over the disputed areas, especially the city of Kirkuk between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens, as well as the sharing of resources and border crossings and the revenues of oil whether extracted from the governorates of Kurdistan or passing through them.
At the inter-regional international level, the US sanctions on Iran, which will take effect on November 4, are at the head of the most important challenges that will force Abdul Mahdi to balance his need for bilateral support from both the United States and Iran, and how to reconcile the position of Sanctions between rejection and commitment, as stated by his predecessor Haider Abadi which is considered by the popular mobilization factions is not binding on the new government, or ignored it , putting Iraq under the threat of US punitive measures on companies and countries that do not comply with those sanctions.
According to special information obtained by the Rawabet Center for Researches and Strategic Studies, Iraq is trying to obtain an exception from the United States in the application of sanctions on Iran, as happened with Jordan when it got that exception after the second Gulf War. According to this information , the Trump administration will not accept this if the prospective Iraqi government is close to Tehran, Trump administration and its allies such as the United Kingdom and European countries are not satisfied with the way under which the formation of the Iraqi government was carrying out , especially that the sovereign ministries are the share of Tehran’s allies.
Formerly the formation of the Iraqi government in the post-2003, is balanced between Tehran and Washington, but the matter is differed with this government, General Qasim Soleimani wandering in Baghdad and Erbil in order to form an Iraqi government of an Iranian character, in addition to his support to the popular crowd, also he supports some of the corrupt of the Iraqi political class, both Sunni and Shiite, and support one party in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
If an Iraqi government is formed of an Iranian character, and therefore will not abide by the second package of US sanctions on Iran, which will enter into force on November 4, this means that the Iraqi government has taken a very dangerous step against the United States and its allies from Western countries. in this case, the Iraqi government, which preferred its relations with Tehran to other countries, is more like North Korea’s relationship with China, which has imposed global isolation on itself due to its nuclear program, which has ended. Let this infection spread to the Middle East, this Iraqi-Iranian alignment has a very serious impact on Iraq. Can the Iraqi government bear the consequences of this position?
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies