19 January 2022
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Sadrist Movement expected to nominate Kadhimi for Iraq' premiership

Friday, 14 January 2022 21:02
Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Najaf, Iraq, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS) Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Najaf, Iraq, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)

The prime minister is fully engaged in a campaign to fight corruption, which is at the core of the Sadrists' reform agenda.

Iraqi political sources say that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is smoothly gliding towards a new term in office, given the support he enjoys from the Sadrist Movement.

The sources point out that Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sees Kadhimi as the most capable figure who could lead a “national majority” government to be formed by the Sadrists with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

The sources note that the objections of the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework Shia parties to Kadhimi are not of much concern to the Sadrists.

Iraq watchers point out that Kadhimi, despite the modest results achieved during his current term in office, has shown himself to be able to deal effectively with Iraq's quandaries and has demonstrated a great measure of pragmatism in handling foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.

Analysts say there is no external veto on Kadhimi. Even Tehran does not object to his nomination as it does not consider the premier, in the final analysis, to be a threat to its interests.

They believe that the only obstacle to Kadhimi's accession to the premiership is the opposition of the pro-Iranian militias. But these forces will ultimately have no choice in the matter if Muqatada Al-Sadr insists on nominating Kadhimi and if the latter wins the support of the Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

The prime minister had met, on Monday, the leader of the Al-Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, Al-Hadi Al-Amiri, in Baghdad.  The purpose of the visit, according to sources, was to de-escalate tensions with the alliance, considered a political offshoot of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

Kadhimi also visited Najaf, Wednesday. Sources close to the prime minister said the visit was a follow-up to a previous visit, less than a week ago, during which the prime minister examined the state of services in the governorate, the stronghold of the Sadrist Movement.

During his earlier visit to Najaf,  where he was warmly welcomed by Sadr, Kadhimi announced a set of measures regarding local affairs of the west-central province.

Analysts say Kadhimi has recently been leading an active campaign to burnish his own image, by announcing a number of development projects and reshuffling governors and senior officials so as to remove from office those suspected of corruption or the repression of protests, as was the case with the governor of Dhi Qar.

Iraqi affairs experts believe that the recent anti-graft measures taken by Kadhimi are consistent with the positions advocated by the Sadrist Movement and its leader, putting corruption at the forefront of the reform project they want to be implemented after the formation of a national majority government.

Iraq's Integrity Commission announced on Wednesday the issuance of arrest warrants and summons for 85 high-ranking officials, on corruption-related charges, during the month of December.

A statement by the official commission, tasked with investigating corruption cases in Iraq, said that judicial authorities issued the warrants after the investigation by the Integrity Commission of cases in Baghdad and other provinces. It indicated that 21 arrest warrants and 77 summonses were issued, including one involving a current government minister, as well as a number of former ministers, in addition to former parliamentarians, governors and other senior officials. No names were however revealed.

Iraq is considered to be among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the Transparency International index over the past years.

Last October, the country held early legislative elections in the wake of large protests against corruption since 2019.

The leader of the Sadrist Movement has focused during the election campaign on the need to prioritise the fight against corruption.

Observers believe that Kadhimi's anti-corruption moves, at this particular time, are a prelude to his assumption of the premiership in the government, which the Sadrist movement is to form, despite the misgivings of the Shia forces loyal to Iran.

Source: The National

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