September 15 Iraq’s parliament elected Mohammed Halbusi the new speaker. He had the backing of Fatah, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Saudis. This was amidst claims that Halbusi paid millions of dollars for his rivals to drop out of the race. At the end of August for instance, Iraq News Network reported that Halbusi had offered money to Mohammed Tamim to withdrew his candidacy, and then on September 14 Tas Rebat had a story that Halbusi paid Mishan al-Jabouri to pull out of the race as well. The day of the vote, former Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi who was defeated for the speakership claimed that Halbusi paid $30 million to win. That was repeated by Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon and Ammar Hakim’s Hikma lists. Sairoon was especially angry about this as it ran on a reformist platform and condemned the deal making that led to Halbusi’s victory. This could undermine the new speaker’s standing, but since all of Iraq’s ruling parties are involved in corruption most will likely turn a blind eye to the affair.
Halbusi’s party was already wrapped in controversy over the May elections. He ran as part of Anbar Is our Identity, which won the most votes in the province. It was accused of cheating and buying its victory. This was proven by the recount when ballots were thrown out and displaced votes were dismissed in the governorate. However that did not change the results and the list still came in first place.
Halbusi is the youngest speaker in Iraqi history. He is from Garma, Anbar. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering from Mustansiriya University, Baghdad. He was elected to parliament in 2014 and then voted in as Anbar’s governor in August 2017. That means he is not only new but inexperienced as well. His election also points to the new government being like all the rest. The speakership has always gone to a Sunni. His deputies are a Shiite and a Kurd. The KDP and PUK are still in a debate about who will be president, and Sairoon and Fatah will decide the next premier. That all points to another national unity government where all the major parties are included and the positions are split up along ethnosectarian quotas.
AIN, “The text of the decision of Parliament regarding the elections including the abolition of the results,” 5/28/18
Al Alam, “See why Mohammed Halbusi was elected Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament,” 9/15/18
Al-Ayash, Kamal, “A Non-Consensual Consensus, Support For Iraq’s Top Sunni Politician Appears Unified – Or is It?” Niqash, 8/22/18
Al-Bawaba, “Iraq’s Sunni Political Parties Deadlocked Over Choice of Parliamentary Speaker,” 9/12/18
Al Hurra, “Younger…Who is the new parliament speaker of Iraq?” 9/15/18
Iraq News Network, “Source: sharp disagreement between Halbusi and Tamim over president of parliament prize,” 8/29/18
- “Wisdom: Halbusi paid $30 million to support his candidacy for the speaker of parliament,” 9/15/18
Al Maalomah, “Anbar official reveals Solution List falsification of election results and purchase of voter cards,” 5/13/18
- “Hit residents assert Karbouli committed large fraud in elections,” 5/17/18
- “Sairoon reveals the existence of a political deal to buy the post of speaker of parliament,” 9/15/18
Rudaw, “LIVE: Mohammed al-Habousi voted Iraq’s new parliament speaker,” 9/15/18
- “Iraq election body throws out votes from 103 polling stations,” 5/21/18
- “Sunnis prefer former Anbar governor Halbousi for parliament speaker,” 9/14/18
Tas Rebat, “Mishan al-Jabouri: Halbusi paid $15 million to al-Jabouri in return for withdrawing his nomination for the post of speaker of parliament,” 9/14/18