Iraq’s New Prime Minister: A Profile of Heidar al Abadi

August 25, 2014 in General

As Iraq  continues to disintegrate into warring factions, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has finally stepped down and been replaced by Haider al Abadi. But who is his successor? It’s all very well to argue that this was a peaceful transfer of power from one elected individual to another within a democratically elected legislature, but what else do we know about Haider al Abadi?  According to Prospect magazine, Abadi (62) is the son of a prominent Baghdad doctor and government health figure. Two of his brothers were executed under Saddam for supporting the Islamic Dawa Party. He has a doctorate in engineering from Manchester University and specialised in rapid transit programmes in London and other British metropolitan centres. He returned to Iraq in 2003 and served as Minister of Communications, before becoming chair of Iraq’s Parliamentary Finance Committee. Given his British higher education, he is widely regarded as pro-western in his foreign policy orientation. Unusually, he has received endorsement from both Tehran’s Shia core and Sunni figures in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as Iraqi Kurds. This appears to be a promising beginning, but when the Abadi faction split from Maliki’s former government, he only took 55 members of the 328-member Iraqi legislature with him. Concessions will need to be made to Sunnis and Kurds, without the Shia intransigence that Nouri al-Maliki displayed in abundance, precipitating the current crisis. The Kurds may experience a petrochemical wealth windfall.  Abadi seems a pragmatist and federalist, not a crypto-sectarian sectionalist as Maliki was. Whether or not this can prevent Iraq’s ultimate fragmentation and dissolution, or merely delay it, is as yet unknown.

Recommended: 

Bartle Bull: “Iraq Crisis: Who is Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider al Abadi?” Prospect: 15.08.2014: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/world/Iraq-crisis-who-is-iraqs-new-prime-minister-haider-heidar-al-abadi