Iraqi Finance Minister Sacked, Deepening Political, Financial Crisis

Two months after securing a $5.34bn Standby Arrangement with the IMF in July, Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari has lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote. His 21 September dismissal is a potentially serious blow to Iraq’s reeling economy and further undermines embattled Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi. In what is unlikely to have been a coincidence, the vote occurred while Mr ‘Abadi was in New York at the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Zebari lost the parliamentary vote by 158 to 77, a crushing defeat in a vote that in many ways served as a vote against Mr ‘Abadi himself. This was the second senior minister to lose such a vote in the past month and leaves the cabinet desperately lightweight, as Mr ‘Abadi has been acting as interior minister since 5 July. Defense Minister Khalid al-‘Ubaidi was ousted on 22 August by 142 to 102. Both votes were ostensibly on corruption grounds but both were also clearly driven by political motivations (MEES, 2 September) with the backing of Mr ‘Abadi’s predecessor Nuri al-Maliki. Both Mr Maliki and Mr ‘Abadi are in the State of Law coalition (SLC), within which the prime minister clearly has very little standing. (CONTINUED - 990 WORDS)