The Middle East Channel

Iraq Forms New Government Led by Haider al-Abadi

Iraq’s parliament approved a new government headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi late Monday. However, Iraqi lawmakers left the posts of defense and interior ministers unfilled, potentially prolonging a contentious debate. The Kurdish delegation threatened to boycott the session over disputes over budget payments and oil sales, but were persuaded to participate in the government. ...

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Iraq’s parliament approved a new government headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi late Monday. However, Iraqi lawmakers left the posts of defense and interior ministers unfilled, potentially prolonging a contentious debate. The Kurdish delegation threatened to boycott the session over disputes over budget payments and oil sales, but were persuaded to participate in the government. The cabinet includes many of the same people that have led Iraq since the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the "new and inclusive" cabinet saying its formation was a "major milestone" for Iraq. President Barack Obama called Abadi on Monday to congratulate the new prime minister and he expressed Washington’s commitment to assisting Iraq in fighting Islamic State militants.

Syria-Iraq

U.S. President Barack Obama and his national security advisors have been hosting meetings with intelligence and military officials, as well as congressional leaders, ahead of an address Wednesday in which the president will reveal his strategy to counter Islamic State militants. The White House said on Monday that the potentially expanded military actions amounted to a counter-terrorism operation. As the Obama administration is working to determine the roles for the countries that have formed a new coalition to address the Islamic State, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials. Saudi Arabia plans to hold talks with the United States and regional allies on Thursday to discuss concerns over extremist groups. 

Headlines

  • Yemeni police fired on anti-government protesters killing up to four people as hundreds of Houthi supporters marched toward the cabinet building in the capital of Sanaa Tuesday.
  • The U.N. envoy to Libya has urged militias to end fighting and work on a political solution meanwhile former General Heftar has called on militias in Benghazi to disarm and respect the state.
  • Israeli police arrested eight people suspected of leading a cult that forced women to engage in prostitution "to save the Jewish people and expedite the redemption."

Arguments and Analysis

Unrest in Sanaa‘ (International Crisis Group)

"For over a year, the Huthis have been battling various foes in the far north, expanding their territorial control even as they debated the country’s future in the NDC. Many Yemenis, including Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party and supporters of President Abdo Robo Mansour Hadi, quietly cheered as the Huthis fought and weakened a loose coalition of their common foes – the al-Ahmar clan, Salafis, and tribal and military affiliates of the Sunni Islamist party, Islah. But when Huthis captured Amran city, 50km north of Sanaa, overrunning a military base and killing its commander, the political dynamics shifted. International and domestic concern grew that the Huthis – whose positive contributions to the NDC had gained them respect in many quarters – in fact might not be committed to peaceful change or competition, as their critics long had charged.

The debate over the Huthis’ ultimate intentions escalated at the end of July, after the consensus government, split evenly between the GPC and the former opposition bloc including Islah, lifted fuel subsidies. With bankruptcy looming, the state had little choice, but the way it was implemented – suddenly and absent a public awareness campaign or a larger, transparent economic reform strategy – was politically disastrous. The Huthis quickly took advantage, mobilising Yemenis from across the political spectrum. The protests called for reinstating subsidies, replacing the government and implementing NDC recommendations, including fighting corruption and adding other groups and parties to the cabinet."

The past and future of Iraq’s minorities‘ (Elizabeth Ferris and Abbie Taylor, The Washington Post)

"It is important to remember this history of persecution and displacement of minorities in looking at the current attacks. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reported an increase in the frequency of sectarian attacks in Iraq in 2013, emphasizing that most of those affected by sectarian violence have been members of the Shiite majority. But the violence has a particularly devastating effect on Iraq’s smaller minority groups precisely because they are so small to begin with. Unsurprisingly given the lack of rights-based protection afforded to these minorities, we read now of Yazidi villages that have been emptied of their inhabitants, Christians in Mosul told to either convert to Islam, die or leave, and the intimidation, killings and abductions of Shabaks and Turkmen from their homes in northern Iraq."

— Mary Casey

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