BAGHDAD, Iraq — A Parliament speaker was recently elected in Iraq following a two week deadlock. Sunni politician Salim al-Jabouri’s election symbolizes a step forward in the formation of Iraq’s new government. Winning by an absolute majority, Al-Jabouri also serves as Parliament head of the Human Rights Committee.
Previously a law professor at the University of Mesopotamia, Jabouri will move into his new role immediately, aiding in the process of continued elections. His position represents the first of three leadership posts, which are divided based on the country’s ethnic makeup.
The Iraqi constitution mandated that the position of speaker go to a Sunni Muslim. Lawmakers are accepting nominations for president, which requires a three day process before the Parliament reconvenes. The Prime Minister must be a Shiite. The Parliament has 75 days to pick a prime minister once it has reconvened. However, the last time Parliament met to choose a prime minister, it took nearly ten months.
The United States approves of the nomination, hoping it will spur continued success in electing a capable Iraqi government. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement of congratulations to Iraq for electing a speaker and deputy speakers.
“The election of a speaker is the first step in the critical process of forming a new government that can take into account the rights, aspirations and legitimate concerns of all Iraq’s communities,” the statement read. “We urge Iraq’s leaders to follow this achievement with rapid formation of a new government pursuant to Iraq’s constitutional timelines.”
While Al-Jabouri’s election as speaker of Iraq’s Council of Representatives is a positive point of progress, he will have his work cut out for him.
The country continues to face attack from ISIS, an Islamist insurgency group. ISIS has taken over significant territory in Iraq and Syria, striving to establish a new Islamic state. To make matters worse, many Iraqi troops abandoned their posts and fled when faced with attacks from ISIS. In addition, the religious and cultural divide within Iraq’s security forces continues to cause internal conflict.
President Barack Obama has authorized the presence of 300 military advisers in Iraq, 210 of which are there now. These advisors will perform an assessment of Iraqi security forces, evaluating the capabilities, training, leadership and morale of troops currently facing ISIS. Following this assessment, the report will be given to Obama with recommendations for how to best support Iraq during this crisis.
Kerry emphasized the importance of Iraq’s new government in the fight against ISIS stating, “Iraq faces an existential threat and Iraq’s leaders need to confront that threat with the urgency it demands.”
In Syria, ISIS continues to advance, taking over increasing amounts of territory. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as of Monday, ISIS controlled about 95% of the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which shares a border with Iraq. The new government will have to move fast and operate effectively if Iraq wants to stand a chance in the continued combat with ISIS.
– Caroline Logan