Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Political wrangling over the remaining unfilled posts in Iraq’s new government continued on Monday, as reports suggested members of the country’s main Shi’ite political bloc remained at loggerheads over their preferred candidate for interior minister.
A prominent National Alliance member, Izzat Shahbandar, told Asharq Al-Awsat that disputes within the Shi’ite bloc over who to put forward had reached a head, with “the members of the Badr Organization [within the National Alliance], and not just their leader Hadi Al-Ameri . . now exclusively eyeing the post of interior minister.”
But Ameri and his organization denied they were to blame for the delay in deciding on a candidate. In a leaked letter sent to new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, Ameri said he did not “insist on a candidate, nor am I putting myself forward as one.”
He maintained his group had accepted the Interior Ministry’s recommendations for the post despite its disagreement, while other members of the National Alliance engaged in “humiliating and degrading” infighting over the position.
The all-important interior and defense minister posts in the new Iraqi government remain vacant. Abadi vowed last Monday in front of parliament to fill the posts within a week, indicating that if the Shi’ite National Alliance and the Sunni Iraqi Forces Alliance—respectively the country’s main Shi’ite and Sunni political blocs, each tasked with putting forward a candidate for one of the posts, interior and defense—did not agree on their candidates for the posts, he would be selecting two of his own and putting them before parliament for a vote.
A member of the Iraqi Forces Alliance, meanwhile, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat the Sunni bloc had now settled on its candidate for defense minister. “The main competition throughout the previous period had been exclusively between Khalid Al-Obaidi and Jabir Al-Jabiri, but . . . the candidate who gained the consensus of the Alliance was Jabiri.”
He added that despite Obaidi’s previously being the favorite for the post, and his “obvious professionalism as a former military man” and the support he had received from former parliament speaker and current Vice-President Osama Al-Nujaifi, in the end it was Jabiri who was selected following support from current Parliament Speaker Salim Al-Jabouri and Al-Arabiyya Coalition leader and Vice-President Saleh Al-Mutlaq.