Nearly five months after Iraq’s 12 May parliamentary elections the country’s next government is finally taking shape. Barham Salih was appointed president on 2 October and swiftly appointed former Vice President and Oil Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi as prime minister designate, inviting him to make the first attempt at government formation.

Iraq’s presidency, which must be held by a Kurd, is a largely ceremonial position and so Mr Salih, like his immediate predecessor Fuad Masum will have little real power. The last president to play a meaningful role was Jalal Talabani who held the role from 2006-2014. The veteran politician utilized his links to key political players both within Iraq and internationally to act as a mediator and Iraqi politics became more polarized after he suffered a major stroke in December 2012. (CONTINUED - 1000 WORDS)