Spy chief Kadhemi named Iraq’s third PM-designate this year

Mr. Kadhemi, the 53-year-old head of the National Intelligence Service, has ascended to the role

Iraqi President Barham Saleh nominated spy chief Mustafa Kadhemi on Thursday as the country’s third Prime Minister-designate this year, moments after his predecessor ended his bid to form a government.

Mr. Kadhemi, the 53-year-old head of the National Intelligence Service, has ascended to the role as Iraq faces a budget crisis brought on by the collapse in world oil prices and the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“This is a huge responsibility, and a difficult task,” said Mr. Saleh in his nominating speech, describing Mr. Kadhemi as someone with integrity and reason.

Widespread support

His nomination was attended by Ministers, political rivals and even the UN representative in Iraq, indicating widespread support for Mr. Kadhemi that neither of the previous PM-designates had enjoyed.

Moments before the ceremony, his predecessor Adnan Zurfi announced he was withdrawing his candidacy due to “internal and external reasons”. Mr. Zurfi had been staunchly opposed by hardline Shiite factions with close ties to Iran, which enjoys vast influence in Baghdad. Any candidate for the premiership, observers say, must have a green light from Iraq’s Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni communities — as well as Iran and its rival, the U.S.

Mr. Kadhemi was able to secure that support after weeks of lobbying that peaked in a flurry of meetings in Baghdad over the last week, sources said. Among them were gatherings attended by Iranian General Ismail Qaani, who has headed the Quds Force foreign operations unit since a U.S. drone strike killed his predecessor Qasem Soleimani.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 9:20:15 AM |

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