Hours after Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji declined his nomination as Iraq’s next prime minister by the Shiite Coordination Framework on Sunday, the pro-Iran bloc announced Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani, Iraq’s former minister of labor and social affairs, as their candidate for the position.
Sudani, aged 52, is currently the leader of the al-Foraten Movement and has the allegiance of several lawmakers in Parliament. Previously, Sudani was a prominent leader in the Islamic Dawa Party which is affiliated with the State of Law Coalition.
While Sudani has held different ministerial portfolios in the previous government, this is the third time he is elected as a member of parliament. He ran independently in the last round of parliamentary elections in 2021.
Sudani’s nomination came as a result of the outcomes of a Monday meeting that took place in the residence of Al-Fateh Alliance chief Hadi Al-Amiri, who had pressured al-Araji into declining his nomination.
The announcement comes as Iraq is approaching the 10-months mark following the early parliamentary elections of October 2021, with the country yet to form its next government due to the continued disputes between the political blocs in the Iraqi parliament.
Attention is now turning to the Al-Hanana neighborhood in the city of Najaf, where the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr is based. Iraq is waiting to see whether Sadr will green light Sudani’s candidacy or not.
Although Sudani is one of 10 candidates whose names were circulated during the last period, the forces of the Coordination Framework were divided between supporters of what was termed the first line of leaders and those who opposed them.
The first line of leaders up for nomination had included Nouri al-Maliki, Hadi Al-Amiri, Haider al-Abadi and Falih Al-Fayyadh.
Although Al-Amiri officially announced his withdrawal from running for the position, Al-Maliki wrote a tweet in which he said that he would not stand in the way of any decision taken by the Coordination Framework.
As for al-Abadi and Al-Fayyadh, they did not announce their candidacy for the position, but their names were suggested as compromise candidates, especially after the conflict between al-Maliki and al-Amiri became clear.
Sadr's position on Sudani is expected to crystallize in the coming days or perhaps hours.
While it is not possible to predict what position Sadr might take, his decision will likely depend on the extent of his conviction that al-Maliki had no role in choosing Sudani, who had previously belonged to the State of Law Coalition.
If Sadr accepts Sudani, the procedures for forming the next government will proceed smoothly if the Kurds decide their position on choosing their candidate for the presidency.
But if Sadr had a negative stance on Sudani’s nomination, the next stage would be open to unexpected surprises, the least of which would be the continuation of the current government and preparations for new elections.