Wednesday, 13 August, 2014
Iraqi president Mohammed Fuad Masum has asked Haider al-Abadi [Haydar al-Abbadi] to form a government, in a bid to break a deadlock that is paralysing attempts to repulse Sunni militants who have taken over areas north and west of Baghdad.
Iraq’s top political positions are shared so that the president is a Kurd, the post of speaker is awarded to a Sunni Arab and the prime minister’s job goes to a Shia. Nuri al-Maliki has held this last post for two terms, and he is pressing for a third, even though his critics believe he is partly to blame for radicalising Sunni Arabs by marginalising and persecuting their political leaders.
With him out of the way, they believe, it would become easier for central government to build a consensus and enlist support in the battle against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In a sign it recognised the problem, the Shia-led National Alliance bloc nominated an alternative, Abadi, formerly an ally of Maliki but a much less controversial figure.
On August 11, the official Iraqiya TV station showed President Masum signing instructions to form a government and handing them to Abadi, with senior National Alliance figures looking on.
Settling on Abadi as the Shia choice of prime minister could in theory make it easier to unblock the political process, and from there to start tackling the ISIS threat in earnest.
However, Maliki continues to stand firm.
Speaking late on August 10, he accused President Masum of breaching the constitution by attempting to deny him a third term as leader of the biggest parliamentary bloc, State of Law, another Shia-dominated coalition.
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