Without stable Kurdish support, the prime minister will be dependent on Iranian-backed groups for political survival. The Iraqi Parliament ignored it. Jordan's Foreign Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh poses as he arrives for the Mideast peace conference in Paris on Jan. 15, 2017. Washington should recognize that Kadhimi needs flexibility to maneuver and balance international and domestic relationships. The government of former Prime Minister Omar Razzaz resigned last week as its term was scheduled to end. It says Iraq will not allow “its territories to be used as a base for launching aggression against any of its neighbors and will not become a battlefield for regional and international conflicts.” At the same time, it indirectly says it will not allow Iran to manage its relationship with Iraq the way it did in the Soleimani years: “As far as foreign relations are concerned, the state shall communicate with official institutions only, and according to the international diplomatic norms, and not with individuals or non-official entities.”. The March 17 nomination of Adnan al-Zurfi as Iraq’s prime minister-designate highlights the extent to which Iran’s stranglehold on Iraqi politics could be eroding. If that’s true, it’s a positive development — not just for Iraq but for the entire Middle East. King Abdullah II of Jordan has appointed a new prime minister. Consider that Kataib Hezbollah, the militia largely responsible for attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq, openly accused the new prime minister of participating in the U.S. plot to kill the Iranian leaders during the negotiations to select an interim prime minister. In Washington, senior U.S. policymakers have long insisted that Baghdad adopt tougher measures to rein in the paramilitary groups—a demand on which Kadhimi’s predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was denied a meeting with Trump, failed to deliver. Paramilitaries in Iraq are not free-standing rogue agents, but units intertwined with numerous state institutions, and a campaign to purge them may well end up unraveling these institutions along the way. The prime minister lacks strong and stable domestic political support. A turf battle among Iranian factions in Iraq has “opened up space in Baghdad for previously unexpected outcomes,” he says. But public relations cannot make up for poor political organization inside and outside parliament, both of which constrain his ability to govern. Lately the government has been largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic amid a major outbreak. That decision was facilitated by conditions that allowed him to accept a high degree of risk: a massive U.S. troop presence, which salvaged his campaign after its early stumbles, and a previous political shift away from Sadr. State persecution of Muslims in the region depends on high-tech mass surveillance, leaving an open door for other countries to gather intelligence and infiltrate the internment camps. It was no surprise: Kadhimi has not allocated a portfolio to Sunni Arabs in security institutions, and while he recently reached an agreement with the Kurdish parties to transfer monthly payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government, it is a temporary measure, not a settlement of the perennial budget struggle between Baghdad and Erbil. Indicative of the degree of entrenchment is Kataib Hezbollah’s influence over security inside the zone, as is the makeup of the Ministry of Interior, which long has been shaped by the Badr Organization, a paramilitary group and party backed by Iran. This development opens a window to use the strategic talks and previous bilateral arrangements to concentrate U.S. support to partnered Iraqi security institutions, notably the Counter-Terrorism Service and Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which were essential in the fight against the Islamic State. Unlike previous premiers, he came to power not through the bargaining processes that typically follow Iraqi general elections but instead through a series of compromises among parties after the sitting prime minister resigned in the wake of popular protests demanding reform. Kasawneh will also serve as minister of defense and some members of his cabinet were sworn in by the king the same day. Ultimately, this approach would help those parts of the security sector that follow a formal chain of command to develop and, gradually, outgrow those that do not—paving the way, over time, for a stronger Iraqi state. The Prime Minister of Iran was a political post in Iran that had existed during several different periods of time starting with the Qajar era (when the country was internationally known as Persia) until its most recent revival from 1979 to 1989 following the Iranian Revolution. The prime minister is head of the governmental cabinet and appointed by the king. Jordan also signed an aviation agreement with Israel this month that allows each country to fly over the other’s airspace. Kadhimi has also pledged to take on corruption, which is the primary issue for the national protest movement — and a primary reason that Iran is able to exert influence in Iraq. Lahib Higel is the senior analyst for Iraq at the International Crisis Group Twitter: @LahibHigel, Ramzy Mardini is an associate at the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago Twitter: @RamzyMardini, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the White House Aug. 20, In Iraq, the United States Must Be Careful What It Wishes For. Decision-makers in both Washington and Baghdad should come to terms with the fact that the United States does not have the commitment to Iraq that it did during the years of occupation, nor the influence it once wielded over Iraqi politics. While early elections were one of the protesters’ core demands, voices inside the movement say such a move would be premature without the conditions necessary to ensure a fair process. He now has an opportunity to clean house, a longtime U.S. objective. There is no single event that has caused Iran’s current loss of influence in Iraq. In this context, elections will remain a mechanism that perpetuates a broken system. These two conditions gave Maliki a stable coalition in parliament to assure his political survival when he clipped Sadr’s wings. Kadhimi risks prompting another cycle of civil strife if he steps up his attempts to go after the paramilitaries. Kadhimi was able to take advantage of schisms within Iran’s own power centers, says Nibras Kazimi, the founder of Talisman Gate, a website that follows Iraqi politics. Kadhimi “slipped through the inter-Iranian melee, but his ascendance is not a reflection of American influence.”. Sign up for the Week in Review newsletter. Lebanese President Michel Aoun, left, meets with Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Beirut, on Sept. 26, 2020. He was the third choice. They are unlikely to be able to compete in the early elections that Kadhimi has proposed for June 6, 2021, nearly a year ahead of schedule. The Trump administration’s pressure on the Iraqi government (and its offer of assistance) to curtail the influence of paramilitary groups is risking escalation at a time when Kadhimi lacks the capacity to stand his ground, let alone win, should armed confrontation ensue. Argument: Hikma fell short of gaining wider cross-sectarian traction. Eli Lake is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering national security and foreign policy. While the raid netted several other members, they were promptly set free after Kataib Hezbollah mobilized its forces inside the International Zone—the area of Baghdad where parliament and several executive government institutions, in addition to some diplomatic missions, are located. Today, neither exists. The head of government will focus on combating a massive increase in COVID-19 cases and addressing the struggling economy in the Hashemite Kingdom. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. The president keeps stirring up unfounded fears of election fraud. Aggressive government policies against the armed groups have not addressed other core interests. Tellingly, when U.S. policymakers lobbied Iraqi politicians to signal public support for the raid against Kataib Hezbollah, they declined. Founders Love Listing in Amsterdam. His would-be constituents among the protesters are divided and have struggled to organize politically, while becoming targets of assassinations and kidnappings by armed groups. Meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, on Aug. 20, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear that Washington’s priority is still to ensure that Baghdad checks the influence of Kataib Hezbollah and its ilk. The U.S. military presence is too modest in size and limited in mission to back up Kadhimi, whose hold on power remains dependent on the very forces he needs to weaken. Deal to unlock funds to buy humanitarian goods follows Trump admin’s blacklisting of Iran’s financial sector. Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images. The head of government will focus on combating a massive increase in COVID-19 cases and addressing the struggling economy in the Hashemite Kingdom. The great powers have taken big steps to fight global warming. To contact the author of this story:Eli Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org, To contact the editor responsible for this story:Michael Newman at email@example.com. Now attention turns to the rest of the world. The domestic turmoil forced his predecessor to resign, and it is now compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis caused by the oil price slump. When U.S. missiles killed Iran’s most important general and its most important militia leader in early January as they were visiting Baghdad, it looked like American forces would be kicked out of Iraq. At the same time, Soleimani’s death was a factor. In 2008, then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ushered in consolidation that lasted for years after he initiated a military campaign against Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Coronavirus: Iran's deputy health minister positive for COVID-19, South Korea to launch mass testing Published Mon, Feb 24 2020 7:05 PM EST Updated Tue, Feb 25 2020 … In Iraq, the United States Must Be Careful... Kadhimi faces the same dilemma as all Iraqi premiers since the demise of Saddam Hussein’s regime: He must find a way to relieve pressure from the country’s two crucial foreign backers—the United States and Iran—which are also mutual adversaries. Kadhimi’s platform explicitly calls for reform of the Interior Ministry, whose forces coordinated with Iranian-backed militias to violently disperse recent peaceful protests against Iranian influence. Losing such a contest would not only jeopardize Kadhimi’s tenure in office; it could also cause long-lasting damage to the U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relationship, as any successor premier in such a scenario would be much less inclined to heed Washington’s calls to reduce Iranian influence. It might also make them smarter. Given the constraints he faces, however, Kadhimi risks prompting another cycle of civil strife if he steps up his attempts to go after the paramilitaries. In Iraq, the United States Must Be Careful What It Wishes For Would Joe Biden Be a Friend to Boris Johnson? It was one in a series of killings of activists, likely aimed both at deterring the prime minister from more vigorous action against paramilitaries and at discrediting him, if only by exposing his inability to hold anyone accountable. Kataib Hezbollah acts as an arm of the Quds Force commanded by General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in the U.S. drone strike. Kadhimi has no safety net that would allow him to take risks. Welcome to the Final Battle for the Climate, Assad’s Horrible War Crimes Are Finally Coming to Light Under Oath, Everything You Think About the Geopolitics of Climate Change Is Wrong.