Iraq Elects Sunni MP From Pro-Iran Bloc as Parliament Speaker

Sadr bloc moves forward with effort to establish a government

After previous meetings failed, the Iraqi parliament finally managed to elect a speaker of parliament on Saturday, naming Mohammed al-Halbusi to the position. Hassan Karim, a Sadr-backed candidate, was given the deputy speaker post.

Halbusi is an interesting choice, amid disputes over which coalition is really forming a government. Halbusi is a member of Hadi al-Amiri’s political alliance, an Iran-backed Shi’ite dominated alliance, and one of their few Sunnis.

Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential cleric, saw his bloc win the most seats in May, and it is claimed that he will be forming the government with PM Hayder Abadi’s bloc and smaller allies. Others, however, claimed Amiri and former PM Nouri al-Maliki will be forming the government.

It’s still not clear which bloc is going to do it, but Sadr’s party, with the plurality, gets first crack at it. It is unclear if allowing Halbusi to be speaker is a post aimed to placate the losing side with a perfunctory position that is set aside for a Sunni Arab, or if it represents them having major political sway and a shot at forming the coalition.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.