Iraq at the Crossroads: either Prime Minister al-Suheil or President Salih have to resign

By Elijah J. Magnier:@ejmalrai

Iraq is at a critical crossroads due to a serious conflict between the Shia parliamentary coalition and Kurdish President Barham Salih. The crisis could dissipate this Sunday when President Saleh announces the name of the new Prime Minister, presented by the largest coalition – al Bina’ – last Thursday in an official but undisclosed letter.

Well-informed sources in Baghdad said “the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parliamentary delegations will meet to discuss the impeachment of President Barham Salih due to his violation of the constitution by refusing to announce the name of the new Prime Minister, Dr Qusay al-Suheel”. The source expects the street also to mobilise against the Iraqi President who – according to the source – is “trying to promote his own candidate. This is considered a clear violation of the constitution and a violation of the domestic internal politico-religious power balance in the country that could lead to unexpected consequences.”

“President Barham Salih has his own candidate, the current head of intelligence Mustafa al-Kadhemi. There is no veto on the personality of Kadhemi; however, the serious problem is the attempt of the President to dismiss the power of the Parliament and his rejection of the will of the largest parliamentary coalition”, said the source.

Sources in Najaf stated “the Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani has repeatedly stated that power emanates from the people and not from the President. It is the people and their representatives who make the decisions and if a new Prime Minister is rejected by the people he will not last long in office”.

President Barham Salih sent a letter to the Parliament on the 15th of December asking for the identity of the largest coalition, which will select the new Prime Minister. The Parliament sent a letter back the next day saying: “You were informed about the identity of the largest coalition in the Parliament of the 12th of October 2018, when you asked Abdel Abdel Mahdi to form the government.”

Sources in Baghdad believe President Salih was trying to win more time for his own agenda. Last Thursday, according to well-informed confirmed sources, “President Salih said he prefers to wait for the Marjaiya’s speech before announcing the name of Dr.Qusay al-Suheil.  This is a clear violation of the constitution and an attempt to deprive the Parliament of its power and take the situation into his own hands”.

According to the sources, President Salih told the new candidate Dr Qusay: “You are too powerful for this position. The current situation demands flexibility”. Dr.Qusay answered that “strength and flexibility are both used when needed and according to circumstances. Iraq needs both”.

It seems the US neither approved nor rejected the nomination of Dr Qusey. “The US is concerned about the safety of its personnel and troops in Iraq and was firm in threatening to respond to any future attempt or attack against its forces. It is less interested in the political process in Iraq”, said the source.

There is little doubt that the selection of al-Bina’, the largest Parliamentary group, is not to the liking of all groups. Even Sayyed Moqtada said he is not with or against Dr Qusey, a former Sadrist who moved to the al-Da’wa party. The new government will have the specific task of dealing with a new electoral law. An early election is possible. It will be necessary to reform the constitution and appoint a new electoral commission to end the current crisis. The commission’s work should take 12 to 14 months.

Nuri al-Maliki, Hadi al-Ameri (grudgingly), Faleh al-Fayyad, Mohamad al-Halbousi and others signed a document and agreed to nominate Dr Qusey. The President of the Republic has the official letter of nomination. Sunday is expected to be a crucial day for Iraq. Either a new Prime Minister will be elected or the impeachment of the President will likely begin. This is another indication that Iraq’s stability is not yet within its grasp. 

Proofread by  C.G.B and Maurice Brasher.

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