Iraq President Threatens to Resign, Protesters Reject Iran-Backed PM Candidate

Salih would quit rather than nominate him

Since the resignation of PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq has been struggling with trying to come up with a replacement. This is particularly difficult both because new elections loom, demanded by protesters, and because there is no consensus alternative for a premier that is acceptable to both the protest movement and the international powers that traditionally dictate the leadership.

The Iran backed Binaa bloc in parliament is pushing Governor Assad al-Eidani as their candidate of choice, and sent his nomination to President Barham Salih. The protesters were already loudly rejecting Eidani at this point, considering anyone acceptable to Iran as necessarily too close to Iran to have the post. Salih responded by refusing to accept the nomination.

The problem is Iraq’s constitution doesn’t allow the president to reject the largest parliament bloc’s candidate. Salih acknowledged that, but said he’d rather resign than nominate Eidani, meaning if they push the matter, they risk ending up with an interim PM the protesters hate, and losing the president in the process.

The US is also said to oppose Eidani, and is pushing Salih to reject the proposal. Generally the US would have a preferred candidate as well, though from the protesters’ perspective it’s the same problem, a PM who is dominated by foreign interests.

With hope of major electoral reform before the next vote, many simply don’t want the job at all, since it’s going to be a very temporary, thankless job, and anyone enough of an outsider for the protesters would be unacceptable to the MPs.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.