Iraq Names New PM-designate as Protests Continue
Amid intensifying anti-government protests in Iraq, President Barham Salih has named Mohammed Allawi the country’s new prime minister-designate. Baghdad has been embroiled in political turmoil since the resignation late last year of Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi, who in the interim has been overseeing the government in a caretaker capacity. Salih had imposed a February 1 deadline for competing Iraqi political factions to agree on a choice for prime minister, with reports suggesting that Allawi was indeed a consensus choice. Allawi, a former communications minister, has pledged to tackle corruption as well as set a date for early parliamentary elections, but it is unclear whether he will be able to break the political deadlock. Moreover, the latest development does not appear to have placated demonstrators, who for months have taken to the streets demanding the creation of a technocratic government to tackle the nation’s economic crisis, eradicate corruption and mediate between the United States and Iran, which are engaged in a low-intensity military conflict inside Iraq. Close to 500 people have been killed since the protests erupted in October, with many accusing Tehran of ordering Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces to quell the civil unrest using lethal methods.