Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi has faced a drumbeat of criticism from across the political spectrum since the 30 April sacking of parliament by activists loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Political leaders, including those previously on friendly terms with Mr ‘Abadi, have speculated that he might have been complicit, but either way was responsible for failing to protect parliament. That four members of parliament were roughed up has also created a strong political backlash against the Sadrist movement.

The crisis of constitutional legitimacy has both deepened in parliament and spread to the cabinet. Even before the 30 April ransacking, parliament was in chaos. MPs loyal to former PMs Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad ‘Allawi were refusing to recognize Speaker Salim al-Jiburi, a key ally of Mr ‘Abadi, as legitimate following their failed bid to impeach him last month (MEES, 15 April). Because two of the parliamentarians assaulted during the mob attack were Kurdish, the Kurdish parties have withdrawn their representatives and demanded assurances of security from Baghdad, a move which also helps them prevent the dismissal of their own ministers, most notably Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari. While they recognize Mr Jiburi, they along with the close to 100 MPs Maliki and ‘Allawi control, have kept parliament from meeting with a quorum. The legislative body is therefore set to remain impotent for some time. (CONTINUED - 1104 WORDS)