Iraq appoints pro-West PM
Mustafa al-Kadhimi, A former Iraqi intelligence chief with close ties to the US and the UK, who was also was backed by pro-Iranian factions despite his close ties to the West, was appointed prime minister, ending a six-month vacuum of power which has threatened the country’s fragile political system.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign affairs minister of Iran, contented himself saying in a tweet that “Iran always stands with the Iraqi people and their choice of administration”
Some analysis considers the move a potential veiled peace offering by Tehran, after a decade of worsening foreign relations with the West.
Al-Kadhimi, 53, spent several years in exile in the UK during the time of Saddam Hussein’s government and he reportedly retains a British passport. His family continues to live in London.
His appointment was met with excitement by Washington. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, within hours of the parliamentary vote, in an overnight session, had called to congratulate al-Kadhimi. Pompeo also approved a waiver allowing Iraq to continue to buy gas and electricity from Iran, despite sanctions against Tehran.
Al-Kadhimi had also won the backing of the pro-Iran factions. That, in turn, caused some mistrust from anti-Iran factions, particularly in the minority Sunni community.
Analysts hint Tehran may also be signaling it is willing to step back from a confrontation with the West, particularly in Iraq where the two factions have been fighting proxy wars for years.
The previous PM, Adel M Abdul- andi, 78, resigned in November amid protests against government corruption and failing services.
About 400 people have been killed in protests since the start of October, and at least 15 died on Friday.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned over reports of the continued use of live ammunition against demonstrators” and called for “maximum restraint”.
The protests were concentrated in the Shia south of the country and Baghdad and constituted a direct threat to Iran and its support among Shia factions.