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Iraqi PM-designate meets with officials in push to form ‘government that serves the public’

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi hopes to announce his proposed Cabinet soon.

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi met April 11 with government leaders in his efforts to quickly form a Cabinet he said would be “a government that serves the public, a government of services.”

Kadhimi, who has been director of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service since 2016, pledged in a televised address April 9 to “work tirelessly to present Iraqis with a program and Cabinet that will work to serve them, protect their rights and take Iraq toward a prosperous future.”

Iraqi President Barham Salih named Kadhimi as prime minister-designate after Adnan al-Zurfi, a former governor of Najaf, withdrew his candidacy.

Kadhimi, who is not affiliated with any Iraqi political party, is the third candidate for the post since Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in November 2019 in response to widespread anti-government protests. Prior to his appointment as intelligence director, Kadhimi worked as a journalist and was previously editor of Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse.

Salih’s first choice, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a former communications minister, withdrew March 1 after failing to reach agreement on a new Cabinet within 30 days.

Kadhimi appears to have widespread backing for his candidacy among Iraq’s key political parties.

Salih described Kadhimi as a “patriot and cultural figure … well known for his integrity, moderation [and] giving consideration for all Iraqis regarding their general rights."

The United States and Iran both reacted relatively positively to Kadhimi’s appointment last week.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said April 9, “If Kadhimi is an Iraqi nationalist, if he is dedicated to pursuing a sovereign Iraq, if he is committed to fighting corruption, this would be great for Iraq, and I think it would be great for our bilateral relationship.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi welcomed “the consensus reached among Iraqi political groups today, resulting in the designation of Mr. al-Kadhimi as the new prime minister of Iraq, and considers it as a right step in the right direction.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred April 7 to the United States as “Iraq’s closest friend” when he announced a renewal of the US-Iraq “strategic dialogue” in June, to be led on the US side by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

Schenker, in his remarks, said the threat from Iranian-backed militias to US forces in Iraq remains “significant,” adding that the strategic dialogue would encompass a wide range of financial, economic, security and diplomatic issues.

This story contains reporting from The National (United Arab Emirates).

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