Campaign underway
to depose Iraq’s Abadi

Haidar al-Abadi. (AFP/Hadi Mizban)

BEIRUT – Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi has reportedly come under strong pressure from Shiite leaders seeking to depose him after he curtailed the operations of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization militias.


“Many blocs—Including the Badr bloc, the Sadrist Movement bloc and the State of Law bloc—and [many] armed factions have started a campaign to depose Abadi,” a source in Iraq’s ruling coalition of parties told Alaraby Aljadeed.


According to the source, the Iraqi premier’s relations with his partners has “blown up” following his mid-April visit to Washington during which he accepted US demands that “the Popular Mobilization militias not enter Anbar.”

On April 8, the Iraqi government launched a military campaign to roll back ISIS in the Anbar province following the recapture of Tikrit north of Baghdad from the militant group a week before.


Iraq’s Popular Mobilization militias, most of which are Iranian-backed Shiite groups, played a major role in the Tikrit campaign, however they have been sidelined for the offensive in Anbar, which is mostly populated by Sunni tribesmen.


On April 14, the Washington Post reported that the US had conditioned their aerial military support for the Iraqi campaign in Tikrit, which came only after the offensive bogged down, on the withdrawal of Shiite militias from the frontlines.


Following his meeting with Abadi, on the same day, Obama said that all militias in Iraq must be firmly under the control of the country’s premier, in a broadside aimed against Iran’s role in the war-torn country.


US officials have reportedly opposed the use of Shiite militias in the Anbar province, preferring the arming of local Sunni tribal groups. 


Meanwhile, political heavyweights affiliated with the Popular Mobilization militias have interpreted Abadi’s Washington trip as a concession to the US at the expense of the Iranian-backed forces.


A number of Iraqi media outlets claimed earlier in the week that Abadi would put the issue of his resignation in the hands of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, but sources close to the premier have denied the reports.


State of Law Coalition MP Ali al-Alaak said in a statement that Abadi “is working in accordance with his responsibilities and he is not in want of one voice inside parliament.”


“Abadi will not step down from his position and that is prime minister of Iraq.”


Top Popular Mobilization figure on the warpath


A leading pro-Tehran figure in the Iraqi ruling coalition ramped up his political efforts against Abadi in recent weeks in further pressure on the premier.


Alaraby Aljadeed reported that Badr bloc chief Hadi al-Ameri—Iraq’s Minister of Transport and the leader of a powerful Shiite militia—traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian leaders and seek the toppling of Abadi.


“At the same time he began launching media attacks against Abadi,” a source told the London-based daily.


“He [blamed] Abadi for the ISIS advance in the Baiji refinery, [attributing it] to [the prime minister’s] decision to withdraw the Popular Mobilization [militias].”


“Ameri already hated Abadi for stopping him taking the Interior [Ministry] portfolio; today he is working in coordination with other blocs and armed factions to […] depose him.”


Abadi-Maliki tension


Amid the increased political pressure against Abadi, pro-Maliki figures in the premier’s State of Law coalition have stepped up their efforts to dismiss the country’s defense minister.


Iraqi Kurdish Bas News reported in late April that MPs who still support Maliki—who was forced to resign last year to make way for Abadi’s government—have been “lining up against the Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obaidi.”


The news agency added that Maliki’s supporters are seeking to deflect the blame leveled against the former premier for the dramatic expansion of ISIS in Iraq onto the current defense minister.


Maliki, who still leads the Dawa Party, of which Abadi is also a member, has reportedly been plotting his own political comeback, counting on support from a number to loyalists within the party to move against Iraq’s premier at the right time.


However, in a February interview with Associated Press Maliki denied that he was seeking a return to the premiership. 

Iraqi PM Haidar al-Abadi's political enemies are reportedly seeking to depose him. (AFP/Hadi Mizban)

Ameri already hated Abadi for stopping him taking the Interior [Ministry] portfolio; today he is working in coordination with other blocs and armed factions to […] depose him.