Spy chief Kadhemi named Iraq’s third PM-designate this year Apr 10, 2020 0 2589 12345 AFPBaghdadIraqi 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 12 RELATED ARTICLES India seals coronavirus hotspots, masks made compulsory Apr 10, 2020 0 543 Iran says virus deaths pass 4,000 but cases dropping Apr 10, 2020 0 570 Africa ‘elbowed out’ in quest for tools to fight COVID-19: AU Apr 10, 2020 0 528 Pakistan shoots down Indian drone as Kashmir tensions rise Islamabad Pakistan’s army said on Thursday it had shot down a small Indian surveillance drone in Kashmir, as tensions rose over continued cross-border shelling in the disputed territory. According to a statement from .. IS attack in Syria kills 27 regime forces: Monitor Beirut At least 27 Syrian regime fighters were killed on Thursday in an Islamic State group attack in the central province of Homs amid fierce clashes, a war monitor said. Pro-government fighters backed by Russian air .. Calm reported in Yemen after Saudi alliance’s truce announcement DPA Sana’a Calm was prevailing in war-wracked Yemen, witnesses said on Thursday, a day after a Saudi-led alliance fighting Iran-linked rebels announced a temporary ceasefire to focus attention on battling the new .. Police arrest Filipinos for flagellating themselves despite lockdown DPA Manila Police in the Philippines said on Thursday that they had arrested three men for flagellating themselves despite a ban on Holy Week rituals amid a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The men, aged 18 .. AU deputy slams ‘colonialist’ suggestion of vaccine tests in Africa Nairobi A controversial suggestion made by French doctors to test a coronavirus vaccine in Africa smacks of colonialism and will not be pursued, the deputy head of the African Union Commission said on Thursday. “We .. Indonesia records highest daily increase in COVID-19 deaths Jakarta Indonesia on Thursday recorded its highest number of deaths from coronavirus in a single day since the country’s first cases were announced early last month. The death toll from Covid-19, the disease caused by ..