Skip to main content

Iraq parliament approves new government after year of deadlock

Iraqi MPs held a vote of confidence in the new government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Thursday, in a major move following months of political infighting that paralysed life in the war-ravaged oil-rich country
— Baghdad (AFP)

Iraqi lawmakers approved a new government on Thursday, a key step forward after bitter infighting between Shiite Muslim factions and deadly violence following contested elections.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani's 21-member cabinet is expected to face myriad challenges.

The oil-rich but war-ravaged country is plagued by endemic corruption, rampant unemployment and decaying infrastructure.

"Our ministerial team will shoulder the responsibility at this critical period, in which the world is witnessing tremendous political and economic changes and conflicts," Sudani's office said in a statement after the vote.

Those changes will "add new challenges to our country, which is already suffering from accumulated crises, that have had economic, social, humanitarian and environmental impacts on our citizens", it added.

It said that Sudani's government obtained the confidence of parliament, but did not gave a breakdown of the vote which took place by a show of hands.

It added, however, that 253 MPs out of parliament's 329 members were present at the session.

Sudani, 52, was chosen to form the new government on October 13 following months of infighting between key Shiite Muslim factions that plunged the country into political deadlock.

- Elections 'within a year' -

Prime Minister  Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a confidence vote on his new government

The movement of firebrand cleric Moqtada, Sudani's rival in Iraq's majority Shiite camp, refused to join the government.

But Sudani had the backing of the Coalition for the Administration of the State, which includes the Coordination Framework, an alliance of powerful pro-Iran Shiite factions that hold 138 out of 329 seats in parliament.

Other members include a Sunni grouping led by parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbussi, and two key Kurdish parties.

Of the 21 ministries nominated, 12 posts go to Shiites supported by the Coordination Framework, six to Sunni leaders, two to Kurds and one to a Christian woman -- one of three females in the new government.

Some analysts say a new government does not mean the end of the power struggle between the Sadr and Coordination Framework camp that spilled into deadly clashes in August.

Ihsan al-Shammari, a political scientist at the University of Baghdad, said in order to avoid fresh unrest the new cabinet and the Coordination Framework should deliver reforms as demanded by Sadr.

Sudani has pledged to hold early elections "within a year" as requested by Sadr, a grey-bearded preacher who once led a militia against American and Iraqi government forces.

- Endemic corruption -

The new prime minister and his government were confirmed at a time when Iraq is facing numerous challenges and a battered economy.

State institutions have been weakened by decades of war, and corruption is endemic.

Official figures published last year estimated that well over $400 billion had gone missing from state coffers in the near two decades since dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

One of Sudani's first task would be to adopt a budget for 2022 -- a move key to unblock huge revenues from oil exports earned this year that are locked up in the central bank's coffers.

The colossal $87 billion in foreign exchange reserves are needed to put in motion much-needed reforms and kickstart infrastructure projects.

Despite its immense oil and gas reserves, about one-third of Iraq's 41 million population now lives in poverty, while some 35 percent of young people are unemployed, according to the UN.

On Thursday, the UN mission in Iraq said it "welcomes confirmation of Iraqi government, reaffirms readiness to support".

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial