Iraq’s parliament on 2 November voted to deny Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi a “mandate” to pursue reforms – a major setback for the embattled PM, although it matters more in terms of the fight for high ground between Shia factions than in terms of concrete policy. The vote reverses parliament’s 11 August approval of the measures, which in turn followed popular protests – mostly in Shia areas.

The 11 August vote was seen as a mandate for the executive branch to enact reforms unilaterally. Yet while Mr ‘Abadi’s unilateral moves to abolish the three vice-president positions – those of former PMs Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad ‘Allawi and former parliamentary speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, who each lead blocs in the current parliament – raised the ire of members of the political class, it was Mr ‘Abadi’s fumbled effort to reform public compensation that really undermined him. (CONTINUED - 417 WORDS)