Saturday, May 30, 2020
banner
Home /  World  /  Spy chief Kadhemi named Iraq’s third PM-designate this year

Spy chief Kadhemi named Iraq’s third PM-designate this year

Spy chief Kadhemi named Iraq’s third PM-designate this year

AFP
Baghdad
Iraqi President Barham Saleh nominated spy chief Mustafa Kadhemi on Thursday as the country’s third prime minister-designate this year, moments after his predecessor ended his bid to form a government.
Kadhemi, the 53-year-old head of the National Intelligence Service, has ascended to the role as Iraq faces a budget crisis brought on by the collapse in world oil prices and the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“This is a huge responsibility, and a difficult task,” said Saleh in his nominating speech, describing Kadhemi as someone with integrity and reason.
His nomination was attended by ministers, political rivals and even the United Nations’ representative in Iraq, indicating widespread support for Kadhemi that neither of the previous PM-designates had enjoyed.
Moments before the ceremony, his predecessor Adnan Zurfi announced he was withdrawing his candidacy due to “internal and external reasons,” without elaborating.
Zurfi had been staunchly opposed by hardline Shiite factions with close ties to Iran, which enjoys vast political and military influence in Baghdad.
Any candidate for the premiership, observers say, must have a green light from Iraq’s Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni communities -- as well as Iran and its rival, the US.
Kadhemi was able to secure that support after weeks of lobbying that peaked in a flurry of meetings in Baghdad over the last week, sources close to him told AFP.
Among them were gatherings attended by Iranian General Ismail Qaani, who has headed Iran’s powerful Quds Force foreign operations unit since a US drone strike in Baghdad killed his predecessor Qasem Soleimani in January.
One hardline Iraqi faction accused Kadhemi of conspiring with Washington to carry out the strike, but the spy chief was able to repair his ties to Iran, several political sources close to the talks told AFP.
“Kadhemi recently travelled to Beirut to overcome this obstacle,” said one source close to Lebanon’s pro-Iran movement Hezbollah.
That paved the way for Qaani to endorse Kadhemi in his meetings with top Iraqi Shiite leaders in Baghdad last week, a second source confirmed.
Iraq has long feared being caught in spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States, which has blamed the Islamic republic and its allies for dozens of rocket attacks on American troops and citizens in Iraq in recent months.

Pages