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”.
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The Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, stated that Iran was making every possible effort, together with India, Russia and nations of Central Asia and the Caucasus, to begin a joint regional campaign against terrorism. He highlighted that only with the help of such joint efforts can one combat terrorism, the plague of the 21st century, which the current U.S. administration is using for its military purposes. And by rescuing the remaining ISIS mercenaries and sending them to countries adjoining Syria, the United States is trying to maintain constant pressure on Middle Eastern governments that oppose the USA.
It is worth mentioning that Tehran does not rely on Riyadh at all when it comes to resolving this issue. According to the second-in-command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brigadier general Hossein Salami, Saudi Arabia is the “heart of evil” in the region and the world.
Iranian appeals to actively fight against terrorism and those who support perpetual instability in the Middle East are well-grounded and are given further credence by disturbing realities. Many clear-headed politicians have condemned Washington’s “duplicity” after more and more reports began to appear recently about the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration was striving to promote the sale of nuclear technologies to Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, what the entire world has known all along is becoming clearer with each passing day: neither human rights issues nor nuclear programs are true causes for concern for the United States as it is pursuing its foreign policy course in Middle Eastern countries, and first and foremost, in its satellite nation of Saudi Arabia. The murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul at the hands of the Saudi intelligence services, and the fact that President Donald Trump condoned this inhumane act are all instances of the USA exhibiting double standards in relation to human rights issues.
It is intriguing that after the death of the Saudi journalist, the House of Representatives and the Senate adopted resolutions which limit U.S. participation in military operations of the coalition, headed by Saudi Arabia, during the Yemeni civil war. What is more, the Senate approved the resolution following a vote that reflected overwhelming support for the idea that the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was indeed responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
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