Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi, President Barham Salih, and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi meet in Baghdad on December 5, 2018 to settle disputes about Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet appointments. Photo: @BarhamSalih
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Top officials in Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sayirun alliance are tempering support for new Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi and his new government, arguing they did not support him so he could only run the country "the way he wants."
"When the prime minister was appointed, we did not sign on a clean sheet for him to run the country the way he wants and the question of the prime minister to become the center of rivalries, but rather he was appointed to get past the crises,” Sayirun MP Jasim al-Halfi told Iraqi media.
Sadr, an outspoken Shiite cleric who championed fighting corruption and helping everyday Iraqis in his election campaigning, has always been an opposition figure in Iraq — opposing perceived Iranian or Western influence in Baghdad.
Halfi claimed Abdul-Mahdi is already showing signs of failure; Sayirun’s is wary of "firmness on the imposition of a person to create crises while the Iraqi political crises cannot endure it."
Abdul-Mahdi met with President Barham Salih and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi on Wednesday after lawmakers walked out of parliament in order to not obtain a quorum to vote on Abdul-Mahdi’s eight unfilled cabinet posts.
Iraq does not suffer from "the lack of strong personalities,” said Halfi. “And finding an independent and pure person is not a difficult task."
Badir al-Zeyadi, another Sayirun MP said though Abdul-Mahdi was selected to be prime minister based on a majority, he "has trespassed the consensuses."
"Adil Abdul Mahdi is adamant on the nominees and he is taking the side of Bina coalition and has given up the Reform Coalition for finishing his ministerial cabinet," Zeyadi added.
Both leaders insisted that ministers who are rejected by their bloc "must not" become ministers and they have to be changed.
Sadr, himself, has already expressed dissatisfaction
with Abdul-Mahdi’s new government. Shiite-Shiite and Sunni-Sunni rivalries are preventing the cabinet from being filled.
Abdul-Mahdi, who has been described as politically flexible, offered eight nominees to parliament before the walkout.
The primary dispute is between the nominations of Falih al-Fayadh to the Ministry of Interior and Faysal al-Jarba to the Ministry of Defence.
The Sayirun alliance has threatened to stage protests if Fayadh is given the post. Fayadh is former national security advisor and head of the Hashd al-Shaabi. He is backed by Hadi al-Amiri who is seen as close to Iran.
Previous Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government was critiqued for failing to reign in Iran-leaning Shiite militias and paramilitias.