With his appointment by Iraq’s new president Fouad Massoum, Haider al-Abadi (حيدر العبادي) is almost certain to become Iraq’s next prime minister — even as two-term prime minister Nouri al-Maliki continues to attempt to stop Abadi’s selection by any means possible.
So who is Abadi? And what does his selection mean for Iraq’s political future?
Like many leading figures in the Shiite opposition movement, Abadi spent much of the Saddam Hussein era in exile, in his case in London. In 2003, like so many other exiles, returned to Iraq when the US military eliminated Saddam’s Baathist regime.
From the outset, Abadi took a leading role in Iraq’s new government. An electronic engineer, Abadi served as communications minister in the Iraqi Governing Council that reigned between September 2003 and June 2003. Most recently, Abadi was elected deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament last month in what’s been a four-month process to elect new national leaders, following the country’s April parliamentary elections.
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Abadi’s appointment has the support of a majority of the Shiite bloc that Maliki once led, the State of Law Coalition (SLC, إئتلاف دولة القانون), and Abadi himself is a member of Maliki’s party, Islamic Dawa (حزب الدعوة الإسلامية), the leading force in the SLC. Up until his appointment replacing Maliki, Abadi was as a key Maliki ally, for example, siding with Maliki against Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a former prime minister and former Dawa leader who was kicked out the party in 2008 when he moved to establish a competing group. Continue reading Meet Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s likely next prime minister