In August 2015 Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi responded to a new wave of public protests by announcing a series of reforms. That included cutting waste and getting rid of several government positions. He had the support of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which gave added weight to the premier’s program. His opponents quickly began making moves against him largely behind the scenes. Now three months later the anti-Abadi factions have gone on the offensive reversing and limiting his actions.
At the end of October into early November the anti-Abadi forces began a series of counter attacks upon the prime minister and his reform package. Starting on October 20, Abu Muhandis one of the leaders of the Hashd al-Shaabi leaked a letter attacking the premier for not funding the fighters. On October 27 60 members of the State of Law list sent Abadi a letter criticizing him for acting unilaterally, while others called the premier’s program unconstitutional. Another group threatened to withdraw their support for Abadi if he didn’t ask Russia to carry out air strikes against the Islamic State. On October 29, Nouri al-Maliki said that that he and the other vice presidents were not dismissed despite a decree by Abadi. At the end of the month there was a Dawa party meeting in which members went after Abadi’s proposals to change the salary scales for government workers in the draft 2016 budget to offset the country’s financial crisis. Finally, at the start of November parliament voted on a resolution that Abadi could not make any more reforms without its approval and the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the vice presidents could not be fired. These moves not only publicly threw down the gauntlet against the premier, but effectively put an end to his reforms. The ruling parties use corruption and patronage systems via government jobs and contracts to stay in power. That means parliament will not approve any future moves that threaten this system. Abadi can now count on the courts coming out against him as well.
Abadi’s premiership has split the Shiite alliance. On his side is the pro-western wing of the Dawa Party, Ammar Hakim and his Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and to a lesser extent Moqtada al-Sadr and his Ahrar bloc in parliament. Against him are Nouri al-Maliki and the pro-Iran side of Dawa, the Badr Organization, and the Tehran linked Hashd al-Shaabi groups like Asaib Ahl Al-Haq. For now the critics of the prime minister are happy to attack him in the press and block his reforms, but their ultimate goal is to replace him. That seems unlikely for right now, but next year things may change depending upon the economic and security situation. This all highlights the precarious situation Abadi is in.
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Al Mada, “The call for a crucial meeting attended by al-Abadi in the lst hour .. Al-Maliki and partisan committee to settle differences,” 10/31/15
- “Citizens and Liberals: Abadi’s recent criticism of past administration reveals a conflict within Dawa,” 10/6/15
- “”Commander of necessity” and not cooperating with the quartet raise the wrath of State of Law against the Prime Minister,” 10/28/15
- “Deputy: Federal Court decides to return the Vice Presidents of the Republic to their offices,” 11/2/15
- “Sayadi: 45 deputies from the State of Law withdraw authority from Abadi,” 10/28/15
Al Masalah, “Maliki reveals reasons why he blasted premier,” 10/29/15
- “Shura Dawa Party confirms its support for Abadi’s reforms,” 10/30/15
NINA, “National Alliance Plans To Dismiss Abadi And Replace Him By Another Character,” 10/22/15
Rasheed, Ahmed, “Iraq’s coalition members press PM to consult before ordering reforms,” Retuers, 10/28/15
Al Rayy, “Maliki confirms that the posts of Vice-President of the Republic has not been canceled,” 10/29/15
Sotaliraq, “Maliki warns Abadi after being called “the leader of necessity,”” 10/6/15
Xinhua, “Iraqi parliament says Abadi’s reforms should comply with constitution,” 11/2/15