Iraq’s new PM moving government outside Baghdad Green Zone

Iraq’s new PM moving government outside Baghdad Green Zone
Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi and former Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi attend the office handover ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, October 25, 2018. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/ Handout via Reuters)
Updated 25 October 2018

Iraq’s new PM moving government outside Baghdad Green Zone

Iraq’s new PM moving government outside Baghdad Green Zone
  • Adel Abdul-Mahdi held his first news conference Thursday in a rehabilitated government compound opposite Baghdad’s iconic central railway station, in the city center.
  • Abdul-Mahdi also said that Iraq will prioritize its own interests and independence when it comes to helping the United States enforce sanctions against Iran.

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s new prime minister is moving his offices outside Baghdad’s highly secure Green Zone, saying he wants to bring his government closer to the people.
Adel Abdul-Mahdi held his first news conference Thursday in a rehabilitated government compound opposite Baghdad’s iconic central railway station, in the city center.
The US built a wall around the Green Zone in 2003 to secure its embassy and Iraq’s government. But it has become a symbol of Iraq’s aggressive inequality and fueled the perception among Iraqis that their government is out of touch.
Abdul-Mahdi says he believes all Iraq should be a “Green Zone” and says he will prioritize providing security, water and electricity during his term.
The new Iraqi prime minister also said Thursday that Iraq will prioritize its own interests and independence when it comes to helping the United States enforce sanctions against Iran.
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran in May and reimpose sanctions has put Abdul-Mahdi’s incoming government in a difficult position, since Iraq’s economy is closely intertwined with neighboring Iran’s.
“We want to secure Iraq from any interference in issues, affairs of other countries, whether it’s a neighboring country or it’s any other country in the world,” Abdul-Mahdi told the news conference in Baghdad.
The United States and Iran, increasingly at odds, are Iraq’s two biggest allies, and Washington has said there will be consequences for countries that do not respect the sanctions.
Abdul-Mahdi’s statement on Thursday did not deviate much from the stance of his predecessor, Haider Al-Abadi.
In August Abadi said Iraq was against the sanctions “as a matter of principle,” but that the country would follow them.
“We consider them a strategic mistake and incorrect but we will abide by them to protect the interests of our people. We will not interact with them or support them but we will abide by them,” he said.
Abadi’s government later asked Washington for permission to ignore some sanctions on its neighbor. Abdul-Mahdi did not say on Thursday whether his government would continue to seek the exemptions.
The next wave of sanctions are due to come into effect on Nov 4.