Amid the political stalemate in Iraq, Finance Minister Ali Allawi has announced his resignation, citing reasons related to the government's inability to perform its duties due to the current political situation. Despite Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's attempts to keep Allawi in the government, he finally accepted his decision. He subsequently appointed the current Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, as the new Finance Minister.
Allawi announced his resignation in a letter read out at a meeting of the Iraqi government in Baghdad. In it, the former minister praised the current government for its great achievements in economic and foreign policy, according to Al Monitor, which received a copy of the letter.
Despite the current difficult situation in Iraq, Allawi believes that the Al-Kadhimi government has fully delivered on its promises. He highlighted the government's achievements in overcoming the health crisis and alleviating the economic effects of the pandemic. Allawi highlighted in his letter that the Iraqi economy has grown by 11% with the measures designed by the current government.
The World Bank also praises Iraq's economic improvement. According to data from the international financial organisation, Iraq's real GDP increased by 1.3% last year after a sharp contraction in 2020. Non-oil sectors, the country's main source of revenue, also grew by 6% in 2021. Despite the difficulties facing the country, such as corruption, political strife and a weak healthcare system, the World Bank forecasts overall growth of 8.9% this year.
In addition to praising the economic situation, Allawi recalled the electoral process last October and affirmed that "the government was able to organise fair elections with great integrity, according to the United Nations and other international organisations that monitored the elections". However, the different political formations have not been able to reach an agreement, leading to the current stalemate and preventing the government from operating normally. "No government in the world can function without a budget," he added.
During the pandemic, Allawi came under pressure from the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers. The Sadrist movement accused the former minister of aggravating Iraq's debt and called for Allawi to appear in parliament.
Council of Ministers spokesman and Culture Minister Hassan Nazim welcomed Allawi's words at a press conference following the meeting. "The resignation text described the government's actions and achievements as exceptional," said Nazim, who said that Allawi "expressed great respect" for these achievements. The spokesman also took the opportunity to stress that the current government "is not part of the political conflict and has a real will to work within the law".
At the same time, Al-Kadhimi called on all members of the government to be committed and to "rise to the challenge". "Commitment is a real strength and I urge them to be patient and courageous," he added.
بيان— المكتب الإعلامي لرئيس الوزراء ?? (@IraqiPMO) August 16, 2022
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
من منطلق المسؤولية الوطنية المشتركة التي تجمع العراقيين على مبدأ حفظ وحدة العراق، وأمنه، واستقراره؛ أدعو الإخوة قادة القوى السياسية الوطنية إلى اجتماع وطني في قصر الحكومة يوم غدٍ الأربعاء؛ للبدء في حوار وطني جاد والتفكير المشترك؛ pic.twitter.com/VX2KgyMPiG
Earlier in the day, the Iraqi Prime Minister called on all other political forces to start a national dialogue to end the gradually worsening political crisis. "I invite the brothers, the leaders of the national political forces to a national meeting at the Government Palace to start a deep national dialogue and deliberation," Al-Kadhimi proposed. The Iraqi leader has also urged all political parties to stop "the popular and media escalation".
Ten months after the elections, Iraq has still not managed to establish a new government. The political stalemate intensifies as the confrontation escalates. The battle for power is between the two main Shia forces, the Sadrist movement - the election winner - and the Coordination Framework - the political bloc with the most seats made up of pro-Iranian alliances.
Tension between the two factions has increased after Al-Sadr's supporters took over Iraq's parliament on up to three occasions. The cleric's supporters have expressed their rejection of the Framework for Coordination's decision to nominate Mohamed Shia al-Sudani as Prime Minister and condemned corruption, which Al-Sadr has turned into his personal and political battle to win popular support.
Amid rising tensions between Shia forces and demonstrations by both formations in the Baghdad Green Zone, the influential cleric announced mass protests scheduled for Saturday 20 August. However, following Al-Kadhimi's call for a "national dialogue", Al Sadr asked his followers to postpone the marches "indefinitely". "I am betting on preserving social peace. The blood of Iraqis is more precious than anything else," Al Sadr wrote on his Twitter account.