Iraqi MPs meet today to finalize contested ministerial posts

Despite disagreements over certain ministerial posts the Iraqi parliament is due to meet today and discuss the appointment of five new ministers to the cabinet of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

Abdul-Mahdi and 14 of his ministers were sworn in on October 24 and another three were approved on December 18.

Five posts are still unfilled – education, migration, justice, defense, and interior ministries.

The deadlock is largely due to divisions among Shiite blocs who cannot settle on a candidate for the interior ministry.

The Fatih Alliance, led by another pro-Iran Hashd commander Hadi al-Amiri, has endorsed Falih Alfayyadh as its candidate for minister of the interior.

Alfayyadh, chairman of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias and founder of the Ataa Movement, was sacked as national security advisor by former PM Haider al-Abadi – accused of backroom political dealings.

However, his candidacy is opposed by Sadr and Abadi’s joint bloc, which insists on an independent candidate heading the ministry.

“We are making it clear that Mr. Falih Alfayyadh is not a nominee of the Fatih Alliance but the National Axis bloc which is a leading side within the Bina Coalition,” Ahmed Askari, spokesperson of the Fatih Alliance, told reporters in Baghdad on Saturday. “He has been appointed for the post of interior minister by the prime minister. We will not decide to change him and have no intention to push for that.”

The Reform Alliance fired back immediately, vowing to prevent Alfayyadh from securing the post.

“The Reform Bloc will boycott the session and play its political role in boycotting the sessions. It is our political decision and stance. Sayirun is not just intending to fail a quorum to be met, but many other ways. There are 54 other ways we are pursuing to not let Alfayyadh from winning over the post,” Rami Sukaini, a Reform Bloc MP in Baghdad, told Rudaw.

Ministry of Defense

Iraq’s post-2003 governments have traditionally appointed a Sunni to head the defense ministry. However, like the Shiite blocs, the Sunnis are divided on their nominee.

The National Axis Alliance in the pro-Iran Bina bloc insists it is the sole representative of Iraq’s Sunnis.

However, Sunnis in the Sadr-Abadi bloc say they have been marginalized, and now insist on their own candidate.

Of the 17 ministers so far approved, just two are Kurds and they are both from the KDP: Minister of Finance Fuad Hussein and Minister of Housing and Reconstruction Bangin Rekani.

Among Kurdish parties the KDP says it will honor PM Abdul Mahdi’s candidates of choice.

“We are supporting Dr. Adil Abdul Mahdi and thus we vote for the nominees he is going to present to fill the remaining ministers,” Viyan Sabri, head of the KDP bloc, told Rudaw.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) says it supports a speedy completion of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government.

“Despite our many concerns and reservations, in which Adil Abdul-Mahdi was not ready to give the PUK its share in the cabinet, we are not hoping for it to fail,” Miran Mohammed, a PUK MP in Baghdad, told Rudaw of the party’s stance on the government. Source