Iraq’s New PM, Like Maliki, Defined by Years of Sectarianism

Abadi Pushed De-Ba'athification Measures, Opposed Reconciliation

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s eight years of failed rule were defined by hostile sectarianism and centralization of power. Everyone is desperately hoping his successor, PM-designate Hayder Abadi, breaks that trend.

But is it a reasonable hope? A cursory look at the record would say no, as Abadi, a member of the exact same Dawa Party as Maliki from the time he was 15 years old, has made a habit out of the same sectarian politics that have gotten Maliki in such trouble.

From the installation of the new government during the US occupation, Abadi was a leading voice in the de-Ba’athification push to ban former Ba’athists, overwhelmingly Sunnis, from public service. He was also a major opponent of efforts at reconciliation that came in the following years.

Iraqi politics at large have been driving by sectarianism, and Abadi hasn’t been bucking that trend. Rather, he’s been the consummate follower of the Dawa Party, under Maliki’s rule, and picked many of the fights Maliki wanted in parliament.

Politically, Abadi has not only alienated most of the Sunni MPs over the years, but the Kurds as well, as his recent leadership of the finance committee centered on picking fights with Kurdish MPs over oil revenue, and it was Abadi who led the push to cut off revenue sharing with the Kurds.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of