Iraq’s new chapter

August 16, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

The new development is a major step towards breaking the political deadlock that has paralysed the country since April elections.

Curtains fell down on Nouri Al Maliki yesterday after he reluctantly announced to step down as prime minister and lend support to Haider Al Abadi. Domestic and international pressure forced Al Maliki, who remained in power for eight years in Iraq, to bow out. On Monday, Iraq’s president had appointed a veteran Shia politician, Haider Al Abadi, as prime minister-designate to form a new government. 

Even his Dawa party has called on Iraqi politicians to work with Al Abadi in forming a new government. The new development is a major step towards breaking the political deadlock that has paralysed the country since April elections.

Refusing to step aside, Al Maliki had argued that the appointment of the 62-year-old Al Abadi as prime minister-designate is constitutionally invalid. He had approached the Supreme Court to rule on his complaint that, as leader of the biggest bloc in parliament elected in April, it was he, not Al Abadi, whom the president should have invited to form a new government. 

Green signal to Al Abadi by the US was a big blow for Al Maliki because he rose to power under the US occupation. The US President Barack Obama has termed the nomination of Al Abadi a positive step for Iraq, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the formation of a new government. 

Iran, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Arab Parliament, and many Arab countries have also given support to Al Abadi. 

Al Maliki’s fall does not come as a surprise. During his eight-year rule, Iraq saw alienation of Kurd and Sunni minorities. The recent uprising of ISIS and the bloodbath in Iraq is the result of his neglect of Sunnis. Though only time will tell whether Al Abadi would be able to restore peace in Iraq but one thing is clear — Al Maliki failed to give Iraqis a peaceful life. 

After the US occupation lasting nearly a decade and ended in 2011 with a price tag of more than $2 trillion, Iraq is nowhere near the stability promised when Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

Al Abadi, who had left the country during Saddam’s rule, has begun consultations on forming a coalition government. 

He will not have to start from the scratch as his stint in the government previously will prove valuable in steering the country out of current crises. He was communications minister in the interim government set up after Saddam was ousted in 2003, and is a member of Al Maliki’s Dawa party. 

However, the road ahead for Al Abadi, who holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Manchester, is not going to be smooth. He will have to ensure that the new government has a proper representation of various sections of Iraq•