Baghdad’s inclusive cabinet

IRAQ’S NEW prime minister has kept his word. In less than 40 days after being sworn-in, Haider Al Abadi has a balanced and inclusive cabinet to govern.

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Published: Mon 20 Oct 2014, 9:47 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:44 PM

The fact that he has accommodated politicians from the Kurd and Sunni parties reflects the resolve of his dispensation not to repeat the fallacies that were committed by former premier Nouri Al Maliki. Moreover, Abadi was under immense pressure to form an inclusive and inward-looking cabinet, and the most laudable aspect is that the legislators stood their ground in ensuring that Iraq returns to the path of pluralism and the sectarian blot is done away with.

The minorities, per se, have no qualms if senior state-level appointments go to the majority community, but what ails them is an agenda of otherness that was so widely evident under Maliki’s governance. This prompted the West and the regional states to also voice against the dis-balance prevalent in Baghdad, and the unrest that was simmering among the rank and file of the minorities. The appointments of defence and interior ministers, after a great deal of debate among the MPs and the powers-that-be, have finally sealed the fate of an inclusive government, and now there should be no looking back.

The new defence minister Khaled Al Obeidi, who comes from Mosul and is a seasoned politician, will have a gigantic task to deliver, as his hometown and northern territories around are literally under the ISIS control and the insurgency has hit new heights. Similarly, the interior minister Salem Al Ghabban, who is considered to be a compromise candidate with weak credentials, cannot afford to blink, especially as Iraq faces revulsions and the sectarian strife. The unfortunate statistics of more than 1,000 people being killed per month — in various incidents of terrorism — is a challenge for the government and demands a cohesive strategy to fight the extremist elements, who are now emboldened with the ISIS advancement.

Prime Minister Abadi, having completed his cabinet, has to concentrate on two indispensable tasks: nation-building and exterminating the ISIS. In doing so, he will be looking up to the support of allies in the West and the region. The least that Abadi should do is to usher in nationalism in order to fight sectarian and parochial sentiments. The way Iraqis had offered to voluntarily fight the ISIS, and the like, is testimony of the fact that the strife-torn country is fighting back. Resurrecting the national army and taking along all the communities in decision-making can help defeat terrorism. Abadi has had a decent and non-controversial start. All he has to do is to build on the trust of his people in a united and sovereign Iraq.

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