Parliament fills key Cabinet posts in Iraq

Members of the Iraqi parliament are seen vote on remaining cabinet ministers at the parliament headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq June 24, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 24 June 2019

Parliament fills key Cabinet posts in Iraq

  • In October, Iraq’s Parliament voted to confirm Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s new government while leaving the four Cabinet posts unfilled

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Parliament on Monday filled three key ministerial positions to end seven months of failed negotiations and political deadlock in the country.

The Parliament approved Najah Al-Shammari as defense minister, Yassin Al-Yassiri as interior minister and Farouq Amin Othman as justice minister. The three were sworn in on Monday.

The election of an education minister was postponed after its candidate was voted down.

In October, Iraq’s Parliament voted to confirm Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s new government while leaving the four Cabinet posts unfilled, a move that underlined the country’s deep political divisions.

Parliamentary approval of the three ministers came on the eve of a deadline by Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr to the prime minister and leaders of political blocs to fill the vacant ministries.

Al-Sadr, one of the most influential clerics in the country, with millions of followers, a large armed faction and a parliamentary bloc, last week threatened to withdraw his support for the government if Abdul Mahdi failed to finalize his Cabinet within 10 days.

In response, Iraq’s leader rushed to provide a list of candidates to fill the vacant ministries.

Abdul Mahdi’s government resulted from an agreement between the parliamentary Reform coalition led by Al-Sadr and the pro-Iranian parliamentary Construction Coalition led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the Badr Organization, one of the most powerful Shiite armed factions.

The two coalitions agreed to share ministries, support the government and vote for each other’s candidates, but a dispute erupted when Al-Amiri and his allies insisted on the nomination of Falih Al-Fayyadh, the current national security adviser, as interior minister. Al-Sadr and his allies within Reform rejected the nomination, saying Al-Fayadh was backed by Qassem Sulaimani, leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The vote to fill the three ministerial vacancies is unlikely to end Iraq’s political turmoil, analysts warned.

“Now Abdul Mahdi can catch his breath until the next crisis,” Abdul Wahid Tuama, an independent analyst, told Arab News.

“Nothing will be changed after the election of these ministers. The performance of the government will not change and the problems facing the prime minister will not be resolved.

“The most important thing achieved today is that the pressure submitted by Al-Sadr on Abdul Mahdi and the heads of blocs will ease for a while.”


UN food agency says aid looted in Yemen’s Houthi-held area

Updated 28 January 2020

UN food agency says aid looted in Yemen’s Houthi-held area

  • A senior aid worker said Houthi militiamen were behind the looting
  • The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been at war with Yemen's internationally recognized government since 2014

CAIRO: The UN food agency said Tuesday that one of its warehouses in the Houthi-controlled part of Yemen had been looted.
The World Food Program statement described the culprits simply as “militias” and over 115,000 kilograms of aid were stolen in the northern province of Hajja.
A senior aid worker, however, said Houthi militiamen were behind the looting. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal.
Millions of Yemenis live just a step away from famine and rely on food aid.
The WFP began a partial suspension of food aid to areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthi rebels last June, amid accusations they were diverting aid from the war-torn country’s hungriest people. The Houthis denied the accusation. Aid deliveries resumed in August.
The WFP provides food assistance to 12 million people every month. The agency spoke out repeatedly last year about aid diversion at the hands of Houthis and accused them of impeding its operations.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been at war with Yemen’s internationally recognized government since 2014, when the Houthis took control of the capital, Sanaa.