Iraq Names US-Backed Adnan Zurufi as PM-Designate

Zurufi was US-appointed governor of Najaf

Iraqi President Barham Salih is continuing to try to put together a new interim government today, appointing Adnan Zurufi as the latest PM-designate. He is seen as a US-favored candidate, and is already facing opposition from Iran.

Zurufi is the head of former PM Hayder Abadi’s parliament bloc. He is the second PM-designate since Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in November. The first, Mohammed Allawi, recently resigned when he was unable to get parliament’s support to form a cabinet.

Zurufi’s history of political problems with Moqtada al-Sadr is going to make it a challenge for him to get parliament’s approval either. Zurufi had criticized Sadr publicly often during his time as a US-backed figure in Najaf.

Zurufi was born in Iraq, and returned to the country in April 2003 as a member of the US-funded Iraq Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC). US administrator Paul Bremer later appointed Zurufi as the governor of Najaf.

Iraq’s anti-government protesters have been demanding a split from the traditional ruling class, objecting to them all being either in league with Iran, in league with the US, or some combination of both. Zurufi appears more of the same in that regard, and while a PM-designate would only be meant to prepare early elections, it’s going to be a tough sell.

Why Salih chose an obviously US-linked candidate at all isn’t clear. It may be an attempt to calm US military tensions in the country.

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.