Iraq’s parliament managed to beat the September 10 deadline for approving a new cabinet today, formalizing Hayder Abadi’s position as Iraq’s new prime minister, replacing Nouri al-Maliki, who will now be one of the vice presidents.
The cabinet is only a partial one, with the positions of Defense Minister and Interior Minister as yet undecided, and expected to be resolved by next week, with Abadi saying he’d take either the consensus parliament choices or appoint his own. There were no previous Interior and Defense Ministers, as Maliki held both positions for years.
As a “unity government,” Abadi appears to have done a good job spreading out the cabinet positions among the various parties. In addition to Maliki, the Vice Presidents will be Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and former parliament speaker Osama Nujaifi. The deputy PMs will be Iraqiya’s top Sunni Arab, Saleh al-Mutlaq, and the Kurdish block’s Heshyar Zebari, along with Sadrist Trend leader Baha Araji.
Beyond that, Iraqi National Alliance figure Ibrahim al-Jaafari will replace Zebari as the Foreign Minister, while Kurdistan’s Roz Nouri Shawes replaces Iraqiya’s Rafi Essawi as the Finance Minister. The powerful Oil Ministry will be run by Adel Abdulmahdi of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, replacing State of Law’s Abdul Luaibi.
In addition to getting the deputy PM and finance ministry spots, Kurdish participation is conditional on the resolution of outstanding disputes over oil revenue sharing as well as territorial ownership of Kirkuk and other areas surrounding the original KRG territory, which Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have taken in recent months.
The unfilled ministries remain hugely important, and are likely to be hotly debated among the various factions in the week to come, though expect Abadi to keep the two spots, particularly the Defense Ministry spot, within the Shi’ite ruling bloc.