Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi called for a sweeping ministerial reshuffle to produce a government led by “technocrats” rather than political party figures during a 9 February speech broadcast live on Iraqi TV. In what the government called a “major address”, he also announced an ID6.5 trillion ($5.5bn) program to fund economic development. The speech is indicative of the fiscal problems Iraq, and the autonomous Kurdistan Region, face from falling oil prices. The leaders of both are under increasing political pressure.

Mr Abadi’s “reshuffle” call follows a 28 January “three presidencies” meeting where he met with President Fuad Masum and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Humam al-Hamudi. It ended with a vague and generalized statement dealing with a range of economic, security and humanitarian issues. But the statement was far less significant than the attendance roster, which confirmed existing political alignments. Higher Education Minister Husain al-Shahristani (formerly oil minister) and key figures from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq sat immediately to Mr Abadi’s right and his left. But former PM Nuri al-Maliki and figures from the Iran-aligned militia parties such as Badr were conspicuously absent. (CONTINUED - 1176 WORDS)