Haider al-Abadi is officially the Prime Minister of Iraq, which is good news in the “anybody but Maliki” sense even though it’s obviously way too early to say how Abadi will perform on the job. His government is in place, or at least most of it is, except for two minor positions:
Iraqi lawmakers urged the country’s new prime minister on Tuesday to quickly assign the critical posts of defense and interior minister which will spearhead domestic efforts to combat the advance of extremist Sunni militants.
Addressing lawmakers late the night earlier, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi requested an additional week for the selection of these positions, saying that names have been proposed but the various political blocs have yet to reach a consensus. Lawmakers approved all of the candidates proposed for the new government, with the exception of a few posts, including the tourism and the water resources minister.
Yeah, it seems like you’d want to get the ministries that run your military and your internal security forces filled as soon as possible, considering that, you know, you’re currently trying to beat back a hybrid invasion/revolution.
Joel Wing at Musings on Iraq explains that the two ministries haven’t been filled because the Sunni parties can’t agree on a candidate for Defense, which is supposed to be one of their ministries under the national unity-style government (their first candidate was unacceptable to the Kurds because he had ties to the Hussein regime), and because the Interior nominee, Hadi Ameri, is a former (?) Shiʿa militia leader whose nomination drew US opposition for that reason. Wing also points out that, with the Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shiʿa blocs themselves internally divided on key issues, and the Kurds demanding oil and territorial concessions from Baghdad, Abadi has his work cut out for him. Also of interest is the distribution of the ministries in the new government. Abadi’s cabinet is smaller than Maliki’s, with 23 ministers compared to Maliki’s 40, but it’s also slightly more Shiʿa; 56% of the ministries are held by Shiʿa parties (26% Sunni Arab, 8% Kurdish), where Maliki’s last cabinet was 52% Shiʿa (30% Sunni Arab, 15% Kurdish). Those are minor shifts and probably won’t matter, but given Maliki’s Shiʿa-centric governance it’s an interesting development nonetheless.