Kurdistan president backs efforts to nominate Iraqi spy chief for PM

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Wednesday said it welcomed efforts by Iraq’s Shia parties to appoint spy chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as the country’s prime minister-designate and called for support from all sides to expedite the formation of a new government amid multiple national crises.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Wednesday said he welcomed efforts by Iraq’s Shia parties to appoint spy chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as the country’s prime minister-designate and called for support from all sides to expedite the formation of a new government amid multiple national crises.

“Our country is currently passing through a difficult situation that requires all of us to put aside our differences” and “come to an agreement on how to form the next federal government based on the constitution and genuine consensus,” read a statement from Barzani’s office.

The Kurdistan Region Presidency “sees the formation of the new cabinet supported by all groups in Iraq as a necessity,” Barzani affirmed, adding, “We welcome the nomination of Mr. Mustafa al-Kazemi, as the Shiite political groups’ candidate for the post of the Prime Minister of Iraq.” 

“We urge all parties to support him so that he can finalize the formation process of the upcoming government,” which, the statement noted, will face the formidable task of confronting “the threats and crises that Iraq is currently facing.” 

Kadhimi, the director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, if nominated, would replace the current Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi, the second to take on the challenge of receiving a parliamentary mandate after now-caretaker premier Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned in late November.

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Abdul Mahdi’s move came following after days of unprecedented violence, largely carried out by Iraqi security forces and PMF members against mostly peaceful anti-government protesters. Following months of political jockeying, some Shia parties picked Mohamed Allawi to form a new cabinet in early February.

Allawi was unable to garner enough support to pass a parliamentary vote of confidence, largely because Kurdish, Sunni, and some Shia lawmakers shunned him over his methods of picking “independent” ministers for his cabinet. The politician rescinded his candidacy in early March as a constitutionally mandated deadline passed.

Nearly two weeks later, Iraqi President Barham Salih personally nominated Zurfi to form a new cabinet as partisan disputes continued, despite strong objections to the move by pro-Iran politicians who see the former Najaf governor as a close US ally. Tehran-aligned factions also denounced Salih’s move as unconstitutional.

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Zurfi’s primary backer is the parliamentary faction he leads, the Victory Alliance of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, which came in third place in the 2018 national parliamentary elections. Now, support for his ascendancy appears to be waning as other leading Shia groups put their voices behind Kadhimi.

The constitutional deadline for Zurfi to face a parliamentary vote expires in nine days. Still, the legislature has not set a date for an extraordinary session on the issue, but Zurfi said on Monday that his cabinet and government agenda would be ready to face a vote of confidence in two days.

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The coronavirus pandemic that is crippling governments worldwide, an ongoing protest movement that continues to demand systematic change in the national political system, potential economic repercussions of falling oil prices, and an uptick in attacks by remnants of the so-called Islamic State are among a slew of domestic, regional, and international issues that the country faces. 

Editing by John J. Catherine