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Welcoming Iraq’s New Appointments

Welcoming Iraq’s New Appointments

Thursday, 4 October, 2018 - 13:00
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

According to the political norms of the new Iraqi system implemented since 2006, the majority of the parliament elected Dr. Barham Salih as president and Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister. The term of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s administration, which succeeded in saving the country from the dangerous conflict that threatened Iraq’s unity, has ended.

Political quotas in Iraq have created norms and not laws that stipulate appointing Kurds as president, a Shiite as premiers, and a Sunni as a speaker of parliament. This is not a good political model because it actually strengthens divisions, sectarianism, and racism and it may carry bigger problems.

However, despite these cautions and gaps, it remains the boat that can peacefully transfer Iraq to the banks of a better future. Electing Salih and Abdul Mahdi is an extremely positive step as they represent a moderate duo that’s required in the phase of chaos surrounding Iraq, especially in neighboring Syria and Iran, and amid the presence of the sleeping and wakeful remnants of strife inside Iraq from terrorist groups and armed militias.

Many breathed a sigh of relief after the competition ended and the presidential results were declared. We all look forward to seeing Iraq independent from foreign interferences and having the time for domestic development; to a dear independent Iraq that with it, the Middle East can close one of the chaotic fronts that threaten everyone. We want Iraq to join the list of stable countries. We want Iraq to look after development and meet the needs of its citizens who have been living in miserable and difficult circumstances for 40 years now.

Stability is Iraq’s inherited problem since the regime was toppled at the beginning of the millennium, and difficulties increased with turmoil, the absence of central authority, foreign interferences and the increase of armed militias’ influence. According to the latest statistics, Iraq’s population exceeded 38 million. The country’s problems thus increase, and it may need 20 years to provide essential needs in electricity and water and to complete infrastructure projects such as roads, airports and others. In 1979, when Saddam Hussein assumed power, the population was 12 million and Saddam directed expenditure towards militarizing the state and wars.

Electing Salih and Abdul Mahdi has brought relief to the region because there was real concern that the political transitional process would be obstructed, creating vacuum, division, and disputes over power. There was another negative scenario, represented in electing someone loyal to foreign parties or having tendencies to foreign parties like Iran. This would put Iraq in huge trouble especially with the implementation of American sanctions on Iran.

We know Dr. Salih as a political figure with extensive positive relations with all regional and international powers. And the same applies to Dr. Mahdi who was repeatedly nominated for this post in the past years. Despite the natural and expected protests against the quota system, and the regional and partisan rivalry within Iraq itself, the Kurds will need to reform their relationship with the center after their failed separation attempt.

Baghdad will also need a leadership with a clear vision and a policy that sails away from Iranian pressure that’s trying to benefit from Iraq as its geopolitical extension, and politically use it in confronting regional powers. Also, to use it economically to launder its money, sell its oil, violate prohibitions on imports; and militarily by the Quds Brigade and the rest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards which partially succeeded in using some Iraqi militias as cheap soldiers who fight on behalf of the Khamenei regime in Syria, Yemen, and other countries.

The American-Iranian dispute, despite its risks and disadvantages, represents a great and unique opportunity for the new Iraqi leadership to sail with the country far away from Iranian ambitions. Everyone is waiting to hear the new policy from the new leaders in Baghdad and for them to clearly and seriously state that Iraq is for the Iraqis and that the country will not be part of the conflict and will not be a passage for the Revolutionary Guards or a smuggling market.

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