Iraqi Protesters Unconvinced by New PM-Designate

Allawi courts protest movement, but many see him as more of the same

Iraq’s protest movement has been demanding a full break from the US-backed and Iran-backed ruling class in the next government. The new PM-designate, Mohammed Allawi, held cabinet posts in two former governments, and is the cousin of former PM Ayad Allawi, so not exactly the clean break they were hoping for.

To be fair, not many want the job of PM-designate just now. With massive protests, and tensions with the US, a lot of people rightly believe that the smarter course of action for the politically ambitious is to wait for wholesale political reforms and promised early elections.

Allawi is trying to placate the protesters about his own nomination, promising reforms, and saying he’ll bring justice for those protesters killed in government violence. That’s the least he can do.

Literally the least he can do. With Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani harshly critical of violence against the protesters, this was likely the bare minimum for a PM-designate, and it was enough that cleric Moqtada al-Sadr endorsed Allawi, and called on protesters to start clearing away camps.

Allawi’s existing political ties raise a red flag for the protesters that he’s just another superficial change, and the fact that Iran has endorsed him is a big problem. Only time will tell if he ends up being acceptable, but for now Iraq doesn’t seem to have a lot of alternatives.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.