Protests in Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated southeast have raged throughout the summer. Anger over persistent corruption and economic struggles have centered on the Abadi government, and the premier hasn’t exactly been rushing to offer solutions.
This all took place around the backdrop of the parliamentary elections, with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s party winning a plurality. Sadr’s bloc has courted the other Shi’ite blocs, including Prime Minister Abadi’s.
The assumption was that this would mean Abadi keeping his premiership, while Sadr’s bloc looks to restructure government policy from behind the scenes. As a PM both Iran and the US like, Abadi was seen as a safe choice for the top spot.
But the longer the protests go, and the longer Abadi fails to offer reforms, the less palatable he’s going to end up being for the eventual coalition government. While there is no obvious consensus alternative to Abadi yet, coalition leaders are likely to find that the domestic costs of keeping Abadi in the post outweigh any foreign policy benefits.