Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a 7-article statement on Sunday, August 9th consisting of changes made in government ranks in line with realizing the demonstrators’ demands. Al-Abadi enjoyed the support of senior religious leaders in Iraq and the declaration of this reform package by al-Abadi was considered a political earthquake by the Iranian regime, showing Tehran was caught completely off guard.
1. Maliki is at the epicentre of these anti-corruption measures. The slogans chanted by the demonstrators, positions of political figures and the media propaganda in this regard shows that Maliki – being at the helm as prime minister for 8 years – was the main epicentre of government corruption pinpointed by the people.
2. Despite ostensibly supporting al-Abadi’s actions, Maliki is actually terrified of the upcoming consequences. The grant files concerning Maliki include embezzlement in Ministry of Electricity contracts, arms purchases from Russia, purchasing explosive-detecting devices, the 2014 budget, lands divided amongst his inner circle and 50,000 “ghost soldiers” in his military apparatus whose salaries were paid by the government.
3. Maliki is now in a very weak position following al-Abadi’s reforms. He participated in a ceremony held in al-Mothana Province commemorating the 1920 revolution and said, “Today, the government enjoys the support of senior religious figures, while previous government did not enjoy such support.” Maliki is saying don’t blame him for everything, and others were also involved in bringing about the status quo.
4. The Iranian regime’s ISNA news agency cited the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council saying this body began interrogating Baha al-Araji, Deputy Prime Minister in Energy Affairs on charges of financial corruption. However, al-Araji has denied all charges in this regard.
5. In comparison to the first days of the recent demonstrations, Maliki’s name is being mentioned much more often as the main element behind the corruption. This subject has become a major part of the demonstrators’ slogans.
1. Danaie-Far, Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad, went to Najaf on Sunday, August 9th to meet with Muqtada Sadr, the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the representative of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Iraq. He asked them not to back al-Abadi’s measures. Sadr did not provide a firm answer, yet Baha al-Araji said in his press conference that they support al-Abadi’s decisions.
2. The important blow to the Iranian regime in this regard will be the elimination of Maliki as Tehran’s main element in Iraq.
3. One of the levers of pressure Iran may use against al-Abadi is pulling the Popular Mobilization Forces out of the battlefields against ISIS. The Iranian embassy’s evaluation is that since al-Abadi had sensed this threat he had a meeting with Brett McGurk, the U.S. deputy special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, prior to this decision. McGurk had assured him that Iran’s actions will have no impact on al-Abadi’s measures.
4. The NINA news agency in Iraq wired the stance taken by Firuzabadi, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff supporting al-Abadi’s measures. “The Iraqi people must be aware of various mistakes, invitation to rally invoked by specific and maybe non-Islamic groups, bombing electricity lines from Iran to Iraq and other destructive attacks,” he said.
5. There have been no news reports in Iraqi media, however, ISNA reported PMF deputy Abu Mahdi al-Mohandess and Badr Organization Secretary-General Hadi al-Ameri met with Ayatollah Sistani and discussed their perspectives on how to direct the PMF.
6. Other than Firuzabadi, no other regime official have made any remarks about al-Abadi’s reforms, and until 7 August 2015, the Iranian regime’s news media outlets had remained neutral and only broadcasted short reports. However, from this day forward it has begun depicting a picture through its media outlets that Abadi’s reforms will not be as easy it may seem.
7. Iran is completely confused and has yet to make a specific and public stance on the recent political developments in Iraq. However, in seems it has welcomed this step, while behind the scenes it seeks to make al-Abadi’s reforms futile in the Parliament, and in the media it is has been emphasizing on the difficulty of such measures.
Practical Reform Measures Following al-Abadi’s Amendment
1. Various measures have been seen from other government apparatus following the elimination of the vice president and deputy prime minister posts. According to Article 4 of the Prime Minister’s 7-point plan, the Foreign Ministry has fired five ambassadors and a number of director generals.
2. The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity has referred 49 officers, including senior generals, lieutenant generals and brigadier generals to the Inspections Branch of this ministry.
3. In line with changes and a decrease in spending, the Municipalities and Housing & Resettlement have combined under one ministry.
4. People are demonstrating and chanting for change in the judiciary branch, referring to judiciary chief Mad’hat Mahmoud by name.
5. There is still no sign of al-Abadi continuing his measures. However, demonstrators and political factions are calling on him to carry out deep-rooted steps. This is a clear reference to the arrest and prosecution of Maliki.