Who is Iraq's next prime minister-designate?
Iraqi intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been asked to form Iraq’s next government, after Adnan Al-Zurfi withdrew his candidacy amid pressure from Iran-backed militia groups and a withdrawal of support from the country's main Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
With weeks of political infighting now coming to an end, Kadhimi has 30 days to form a new cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.
While protests have died down following the coronavirus outbreak in Iraq, analysts fear they could erupt once again as economic conditions worsen, compounded by plummeting oil prices.
His coming to office also coincides with a crucial moment in US-Iraq relations. As the coalition continues to withdraw from bases, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently told reporters that the American presence in Iraq was on the agenda for discussion, according to AFP.
The third of three candidates to have been named in the past ten weeks, Kadhimi finds himself in the same volatile position as his predecessors, beholden to a sectarian power-sharing system which prevents the political reform demanded by protesters who took to the streets in October.
Despite this, in a tweet on Thursday, he described himself as ''honoured and privileged'' in undertaking the task.
Seen as a political independent, 53-year-old Kadhimi is set to be Iraq’s youngest ever prime ministerial candidate.
According to The New Arab’s Arabic language service, Al-Kadhimi was born in Baghdad, but has roots in the southern governate of Dhi Qar, the bedrock of deadly anti-government demonstrations.
Holding a BA in Law, Kadhimi left Iraq in 1985 to join the ranks of exiles opposing the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The married father-of-two has an established career as a journalist and writer.
He had served as the editor for The Weekly, an Iraqi journal owned by President Barham Salih, the man who has now nominated him for candidacy, according to The New Arab.
Kadhimi also ran a column focusing on Iraqi political affairs on the online Middle East news site Al-Monitor, documenting testimonies associated with the repression exercised by Saddam’s regime.
Kadhimi, who returned to Iraq in 2003 and began leading intelligence services in 2016, has faced opposition from Iraq’s powerful Iran-backed Shiite political groups, who view him as a threat.
Kataeb Hezbollah, an armed organisation which is part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMU), notably accused him of complicity in the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack in Baghdad.
Agencies contributed to this report.
Read also: The Iraq Report: Political paralysis slows fight against coronavirus amid economic woes
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