Little-known ex-governor nominated as Iraqi PM, Shi’ite groups object
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s president named little-known former regional governor Adnan al-Zurfi as prime minister-designate on Tuesday in another bid to overcome months of unrest and deadlock, but powerful Shi’ite blocs quickly lined up to reject his nomination.
Zurfi now has 30 days to try and form a government which must then survive a vote of confidence in Iraq’s deeply divided parliament.
He is the second man chosen to succeed Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned as prime minister in November amid mass anti-government protests. The next candidate, Mohammed Allawi, quit on March 1, accusing parties of obstructing him.
Lawmakers told Reuters that President Barham Salih had named Zurfi only after larger rival Shi’ite political parties failed to agree on one candidate.
Some of those same groups rounded on the new candidate, who is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, a U.S. ally.
“We hold the president fully responsible for the repercussions of these provocative steps,” read a statement from the Fatih alliance, which represents mostly Iran-backed Shi’ite militia leaders in parliament.
“He’s an American joker and we reject him”, said Hassan Salim, a lawmaker from Asaib Ahl al-Haq Iranian-backed group which the United States designated as a terrorist organization in January.
Zurfi lived in the United States as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein and is seen as a comparatively secular figure in a country long dominated by sectarian parties.
Rockets hit Iraq base hosting foreign troops
A pair of rockets hit an Iraqi base hosting US-led coalition and NATO troops, Iraq’s military said Tuesday, the third attack on installations hosting foreign forces inside a week.
The rockets slammed into the Besmaya base south of Baghdad late Monday night, a statement by the military said, making no mention of casualties.
Spanish forces linked to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, as well as NATO training forces, are present in Besmaya. – Reuters/AFP