Iraqi President Barham Salih has shown that he is in control of the country and has made a show of his contempt for the Iraqi constitution. In a dramatic gesture, Salih made a play for public support by declaring his willingness to resign. He then departed for Suleimaniya, after rejecting the decision of the largest Parliamentary coalition, in accordance with article 76 of the constitution, to nominate their chosen candidate. Only he will decide who can be nominated as the future Prime Minister of the country, notwithstanding the constitution’s provisions for respecting the will of the parliamentary majority.
The resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi and the struggle to nominate a new Prime Minister have shown the divisions between political parties and above all among the Shia majority in Parliament. It has also shown Iran’s handicap in attempting to unite these groups and bring them together to agree on a single Shia Iraqi personality! The limits of Iran’s influence in Iraq are evident. What does the future hold for Iraq?
The Iraqi constitution gives the largest parliamentary coalition the right to choose its candidate for prime minister, and then forward the name to the President, who announces it publicly. However, in this case, the constitution was not followed: President Barham Salih tried to delay the nomination of the largest coalition, Al-Bina’, asking the Parliament to confirm the identity of this coalition. He managed to gain some time by responding to al-Bina’ that “he would rather wait until the Friday sermon of the Marjaiya in Najaf, to make the announcement later”.
Salih was aware that the Marjaiya had taken a clear decision not to intervene in favour of or against any candidate or parliamentary coalition. The Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Sistani has set the road map for any future candidate: an end to corruption, early elections with a new law, an independent judiciary system, together with the creation of job opportunities, listening to people’s requests, protecting protestors, and ending foreign intervention in the country’s internal affairs.
All politicians and heads of political coalitions have interpreted the Marjaiya’s guidelines according to their own lights.
Hadi al-Ameri, the head of al-Bina’ coalition told others in Baghdad that “the Marjiaiya rejected Qusey al-Suheil as future Prime Minister”.