|New Def Min Shammari (Al Mirbad)|
Prime Minister Adel Mahdi took office on October 25, 2018 with an incomplete cabinet. That included no Defense, Interior and Justice ministers. This time it was even more difficult for parliament to fill these positions because Mahdi had no list behind him for support. Instead he was selected by a compromise between Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadi Amiri who led the two main winning lists in the election. Sadr has become increasingly critical of the PM giving him a ten day ultimatum to fill the empty spots in his government. After nine months, lawmakers finally filled those three ministries.
June 24 parliament elected Najah al-Shammari as Defense Minister, Yassin Taha al-Yassri as Interior Minister, and Farouq Amin al-Shawani as Justice Minister. Lawmakers also rejected Sufana al-Hamdani as Education Minister so Mahdi still does not have a full cabinet.
There were some objections to Yassri over accusations that he manipulated a previous position he held in the government, but he was still confirmed. Yassri was born in Baghdad’s Karrada district in 1958. He joined the police in 1979. Since 2003 he held positions in Wasit and Muthanna and was an adviser to the Interior Ministry before being voted in.
Defense Minister Shammari has a very impressive resume. He was born in Baghdad’s Adhamiya in 1967. He graduated from the Military College in 1987. Post-Saddam he was the commander of the Special Operations Brigade from 2003-2004, then commander of the Special Operations Group from 2004-2007, then deputy commander of the Counter Terror Forces from 2007-2009. He then went into academia being a senior lecturer at the National Defense College, before becoming director of the Joint Coordination Center in the disputed areas. In 2018 he retired. His time with the special forces and Counter-Terror forces means that he has a long relationship with the Americans who put together, trained and supplied those two units. That’s important because the U.S. is the main supplier and trainer of the Iraqi armed forces.
This is not the first time an Iraqi government has been formed with no security ministers. This happened before under the Prime Ministers Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki. The Defense and Interior Ministry positions are always contentious because they control the security forces. Now that these spots are filled the government might finally form a strategy to deal with a rebuilding Islamic State. Then again it doesn’t appear to be a priority of Mahdi, which means this issue will continue to fester.
Aldroubi, Mina, “Iraq’s prime minister given 10-day deadline to form cabinet,” The National, 6/18/19
Ebraheem, Mohammed, “Iraq appoints new defense, interior, justice ministers,” Iraqi News, 6/24/19
Al Mada, “Parliament votes on 3 ministers despite reservations and reject the candidate of education,” 6/24/19
Al Mirbad, “Biography of the new Minister of Defense,” 6/24/19
- “Who is the new interior minister,” 6/24/19