Straight from the Source
On Thursday, October 27, after more than a year of political gridlock, Iraq's parliament approved a new government led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. Ministry assignments were distributed to political parties through the sectarian quota system with the Shiite coalition receiving 12 ministries, the Sunnis receiving six, and the Kurds receiving four. However, Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential politicians, and his party refused to participate in al-Sudani’s new government, causing many to forecast uncertainty and divide in the future.
Al-Sudani, formerly Iraq’s human rights minister and minister of labor and social affairs, was tasked with forming a government upon his nomination in mid-October. While this government formation reflects progress in overcoming political standstill, skepticism within Iraq endures. According to The Arab Weekly, in an effort to prevent further political conflict, Sudan has offered “early elections next year… [and] a programme that includes amending the elections law within three months of the ministers being sworn in, with early elections to be held within a year after that. The government's programme also calls for measures to fight corruption, speed up reconstruction of areas damaged by armed conflict and return the displaced to their homes… Sudani said ahead of the vote that the new government will combat ‘the epidemic of corruption that has affected all aspects of life ... and has been the cause of many economic problems, weakening the state’s authority, increasing poverty, unemployment, and poor public services.’”
This new cabinet will be facing a number of challenges, most notably the rivalry with Sadrists. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr refused to join Al-Sudani’s government, marking the first time since 2005 that the Sadr bloc did not hold a single cabinet seat. Written in Asharq Al-Awsat: “Independent lawmaker Raed al-Maliki said he anticipates that Sadr will wait to observe the public's reception of the new government before reacting. ‘I expect that street protests will begin if this government doesn’t succeed,’ he said, noting that the new Cabinet will face ‘major challenges in terms of reforms, combating corruption, climate change and unemployment.’”
Aside from Sadr’s party and its alliances, the majority of Iraqi political parties will be participating in al-Sudani’s government. According to Al-Monitor, “almost all Kurdish and Sunni parties will be participating in the government and receiving their shares. Shiite shares specifically will be distributed among the political parties within the Coordination Framework…With over 130 parliament members, the Coordination Framework can provide strong support to the new prime minister in his mission. None of the previous prime ministers had this number of parliament members.”
Within the new cabinet, there exists a growing diversity in ethnicity and gender. Explained in Kurdistan 24, “there are currently two Kurdish ministers in the cabinet. Fuad Hussein, representing the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) member, was elected as Iraq's foreign minister…Al-Sudani's cabinet has three female ministers, Finance Minister Taif Sami, Minister of Migration and Displacement Evan Jabro, and Hyam Al Yassri of the telecommunication ministry of communications.”
Iraq’s regional neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia, have sent their felicitations to Al-Sudani, expressing well-wishes of prosperity. Written in Arab News, “‘On the occasion of your government’s winning of the confidence votes by the Iraqi parliament, we are pleased to send to your Excellency our sincere congratulations and best wishes for success and prosperity, and to the people of the fraternal Republic of Iraq further progress and prosperity,’ King Salman and the Crown Prince’s cables said.”
The United States also congratulated the new prime minister, emphasizing the benefits of shared interests and mutual collaboration among al-Sudani’s government and the U.S. According to Kuwait News Agency, U.S. State Department Ned Price said in a statement “‘We look forward to working with him and his government on the range of our shared interests, from improving services for the Iraqi people to ensuring a safe, stable and sovereign Iraq as outlined in our Strategic Framework Agreement.’ He added that the US welcomes al-Sudani’s ‘commitment to bring weapons under the control of official and legitimate state institutions.’ He continued ‘we share the Iraqi government’s interest in preserving stability and security.’”