Iraq’s Sadrist Bloc Nominates President, PM Candidates

Sadr's brother-in-law tapped to be new premier

There have been a lot of stalling problems cropping up since the October 10 Iraq election, and it was only fairly recently the new parliament even met. This week, the largest plurality, the Sadrist Movement, has finally announced a bloc and offered candidates for the top posts.

In addition to the Sadrist Movement, the bloc also features the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the al-Siyadi Alliance. They don’t combine for an absolute majority, but are a strong start to a ruling coalition.

As reported before, the KDP’s presidential candidate is Rebar Ahmed Khalid, the current Interior Minister of Kurdistan. The president is expected under the current system to be a Kurd, and he will replace Barhim Salih, from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

It had been considered possible that the KDP would let the PUK keep the presidency under some deal that would give the KDP more power within the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Iraqi presidency is largely a ceremonial position.

The real important post in Iraq’s government is the prime minister, and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has picked his own brother in law, Jaafar al-Sadr, to fill that all important spot. Jaafar al-Sadr is getting a big promotion, going from Iraqi Ambassador to Britain to Prime Minister.

Jaafar al-Sadr has an important history of his own from Iraqi Shi’ites, as the only son of Muhammad al-Sadr, who was executed by the Ba’athist government in 1980. Jaafar fled to Iran and later Lebanon. Jaafar ran for parliament successfully in 2010, but resigned in 2011, protesting the cronyism and corruption of the Maliki government.

Moqtada al-Sadr has similarly pushed an anti-corruption narrative, and has mentioned Jaafar as a possible premier in the past. This time, with the Sadrists having even more seats, he may finally get the post.

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.