News Analysis: Iraqi PM's resignation pleases demonstrators, but fails to stop protests

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-02 01:16:33|Editor: yan
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BAGHDAD, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi parliament's approval of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's resignation pleased the anti-government demonstrators, but was not enough to stop their protests.

After two months of demonstrations in Baghdad and the southern provinces, the protesters' demands have risen to a comprehensive change of the political process.

Abdul Aziz al-Jubouri, a professor of Media College in Iraqiya University in Baghdad, told Xinhua that Abdul Mahdi's resignation came after the Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani withdrew the religious leadership's support when he called on the parliament to reconsider the government.

"Al-Sistani's call, which was widely welcomed by the leading political parties, pushed Abdul Mahdi to declare his resignation before being dismissed by the parliament and also to give a signal to the protesters that he is stepping down to meet their demands," al-Jubouri said.

However, the resignation will give momentum to the demonstrators as a sign of success and will also prompt them to increase their demands to include prosecution of prominent figures of the current political process, and new facts will be imposed on the ground that any future government must be accepted by the protesters, al-Jubouri added.

During his period in office, Abdul Mahdi was often caught in the middle of rising tensions between the United States and Iran, with many believing that his government and many of its important officials were being close to Tehran, according to al-Jubouri.

"The protesters were widely rejecting the Iranian influence in Iraq, and in many cases there were rallies in Baghdad and other southern provinces chanting anti-Iran slogans," he said.

Accordingly, the relations between Iraq and Iran would be affected by demonstrations because the anti-Iran feelings have been on rise recently, al-Jubouri added.

"Any upcoming government will be under pressure by the demonstrators to avoid foreign interference in Iraq's internal affairs, nevertheless, the Iranian and U.S. influence will still have a saying in forming any new government, despite their reducing influence," he concluded.

For his part, Nadhum Ali, an expert of the Arab Forum for Iranian Researches, told Xinhua that Abdul Mahdi's resignation could open the door for larger problem, which is changing the whole post-2003 political process in Iraq.

During the year that Abdul Mahdi spent in office, he was apparently blamed of being closer to Iran, in contrary to his government program that he announced when he took over his post, which said that he would seek balanced relations regionally and internationally.

Ali believes that Abdul Mahdi's resignation is like "putting the ball in the court of the political parties that nominated him a year ago. And once again there's going to be a lot of tough and long negotiations among the political parties that can paralyze the state and could slide the already shaky country into chaos and civil war."

The protests are likely to continue until the parliament passes a new elections law and a new electoral commission to hold the early elections, but it will take a long time to meet these constitutional measures, according to Ali.

Abdul Mahdi's resignation came more than a year after he was sworn in as Iraqi prime minister in October 2018.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the largest coalition in parliament should nominate a candidate for the vacant post to President Barham Salih who will task the new prime minister-designate to form a new cabinet.

The prime minister-designate has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval. The parliament must approve each minister in separate absolute majority votes.

Mass demonstrations have continued in the capital Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more job opportunities.

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