Prime minister designate Adil Abdul-Mahdi. File photo: Abdul-Mahdi / Facebook
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Newly elected Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed Adil Abdul-Mahdi as prime minister designate. The veteran Shiite politician and former oil minister is now tasked with forming a new government.
Abdul-Mahdi, 76, inherits a country wracked by four years of war with ISIS, ethnic and religious division, and a battered economy. He will also have to balance the competing interests of Iraq’s US and Iranian allies, and address the demands of protesters in the southern province of Basra.
Under the constitutional timeline, he has 30 days to form a cabinet capable of moving Iraq forward. He could become the first non-Dawa Party prime minister of Iraq since 2005.
Abdul-Mahdi was born in the al-Batawien area of Baghdad in 1942. His father, who participated in the 1920s revolution against British rule, was a minister during Iraq's monarchy.
In 1963 Abdul-Mahdi graduated from Baghdad University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Two years later he began working for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry as a third secretary.
He then travelled to France in 1969 after obtaining a scholarship to complete his master’s degree in economics. He also spent time in Syria and Lebanon.
Initially a member of the Iraqi Communist Party, Abdul-Mahdi became involved with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq in the early 1980s. He supervised the council’s office in the Kurdistan Region in the late 1990s, where he built ties with the Kurdish leadership.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Abdul-Mahdi served in Ayad Allawi’s transitional government as minister of finance and participated in the drafting of the constitution. He then served as deputy president from 2005 to 2010.
Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed him as minister of oil in 2014, but he later resigned.
Updated 3.17 p.m.