Mohammad Allawi, Iraq’s new prime minister, faces tough challenges

The announcement of Allawi’s name has generated mixed responses from the protesters in Iraq, with certain quarters ready to give him an opportunity while others have rejected him

February 03, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
New Iraqi PM
Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi, Iraq’s Prime Minister designate. (Photo: Twitter)

Iraq’s president Barham Salih appointed Mohammed Allawi as the country’s new prime minister on February 2, Sunday. This comes after almost four months of protests and two months since the resignation of prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi in November 2019.

Mohammad Allawi will run the government until fresh elections are held in Iraq. He has one month to form a new government and get the parliament’s approval.

Mohammad Allawi was the communication minister in the Nouri al-Maliki government till 2012. He is considered to be a consensus candidate between Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon and Hadi al Amiri’s Bina alliance in the Iraqi parliament.

The announcement of Allawi’s name has received immediate support from Moqtada al-Sadr and several other groups in Iraq. However, some of the groups and protesters on the street have rejected his nomination.

Protests in Iraq have been going on since October last year against successive governments’ failure to manage the country’s economy, the rising unemployment and poverty. People are angry due to the fact that despite being an oil rich country and also one of the largest exporters, Iraq has remained a poor nation with very poor public service delivery. Protesters have blamed widespread corruption among the political elite in the country as one of the main reasons for these economic problems. They have also demanded an overhaul in the country’s political system and an end to all kinds of external interference in its domestic affairs.

Mohammad Allawi’s appointment may not bring an end to the protests. However, Sadr’s supporters have started withdrawing from the movement once again, after they re-joined it last Friday. Sadr had earlier withdrawn support to the popular protests following the assassination of Iranian general Soleimani and Iraq’s Abu Mahdi al Muhandis in Baghdad in a US drone attack on January 3. 

Immediately after the announcement of his name, Mohammad Allawi addressed Iraqis and vowed justice for all those who have died in the protests so far. He has also promised to carry forward the economic reforms and policy initiatives that were started by the previous government in response to the protests.   

In December last year, the Iraqi president had refused to accept the proposal of Assad al-Eidani as prime minister and had instead threatened to resign. Assad al-Eidani is the governor of Basra province in Iraq. His name had been proposed by the Al Binna Alliance led by the powerful Hadi al Amiri.