Rachel Avraham
Rachel AvrahamINNRA

With the formation of a new Iraqi government on May 7, many people are hoping that the changes sought by the Iraqi freedom protesters will finally be implemented. Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi was sworn in, after hundreds of protesters were killed and thousands more were injured, fighting against Iranian influence in Iraq and the massive corruption within the country.

With the fresh faces, many are hoping for positive change. Human Rights Watch just released a press release, calling upon the newly elected Iraqi government to address key short-comings in the Iraqi legal system and to take measures in order to minimize the risks that the prison population will be exposed to the coronavirus, hoping that they will take action in areas that previous Iraqi governments neglected.

Just because the new government is more hostile towards Iran does not mean that the Islamic Republic is out of the picture in Iraq.
A recent press release issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office indicated a positive change. It claims that the new government will not allow any country to violate its national sovereignty, will investigate the unlawful deaths of Iraqi protesters and will fight against the rampant corruption within the country. It also pledged to respect their agreements with the Kurdistan region and will try to create a modern healthcare system in order to fight against the coronavirus.

However, is it truly realistic to expect for the next Iraqi government to implement the vision of the Iraqi freedom protester? The raison d’etre of this new government is to meet popular demands for “fresh elections,” Arab News reported: “For those elections to be free and hair, the government’s authority must be restored everywhere.”

Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, and who represents a number of Iraqi opposition officials, added that given this: “It is certain that the Iraqi government does not wish for the people to go out to the streets, but if you look at the glass half full, there are people who support the people’s call for change, especially regarding the corruption of the previous government. If there is freedom of action for ministers that are not corrupt nor affiliated with Iran, then we will have taken the first step towards that goal.”

However, just because the new government is more hostile towards Iran does not mean that the Islamic Republic is out of the picture in Iraq. “The Iraqi plague of poverty and unemployment surrenders the Iraqi parties to Iran’s dictates and some even see Iraq as a province of Iran, similar to what Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanon is trying to do. There has been a deployment of Iranian militias in Iraq, who have even infiltrated among senior level officials of the Iraqi military and these people risk causing the military to collapse in case there is a conflict with Iran,” Safadi noted.

“Many senior level officers are loyal to the dictates of Iran and in the course of an Iraqi struggle against Iran can switch sides, thus causing the military to fail in its mission.”

Nevertheless, despite this, Safadi is optimistic: "I am confident that we will be able to stand alongside the enlightened against the Iranian darkness and help them lead a process to ensure the Iraqi people freedom and democracy, after they experienced repression for many years. Most of the Iraqi street is calling for the return of Jewish property in Iraq and for Iraqi Jews to be part of the economy and the infrastructure. Iraqi Security Forces wish to use Israeli technology in order to fight the Iranian takeover of Iraq.”

Nakeeb Saadoon, who heads the National Rally Call of Iraq, noted: “The formation of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government is more professional than previous governments, especially reducing political Islam’s participation from the government’s formation. However, he cautioned that “it lacks representatives in the opposition and from the sit-in squares. And without the participation of the opposition in the government, it is possible that the conflicts in the sit-in areas could turn into armed conflicts between them and the government. This will be exploited by the militias loyal to the Iranian terrorist regime.”

“Views differ in the Iraqi street,” he noted. “Some believe that the Al-Kadhimi government is the same as the previous governments, that it is merely replacing the positions of people in the previous government. Others, including the moderate opposition forces represented in the demonstrations, see that there are good signs for reducing the percentage of political Islam in the political process.”

Unless the opposition groups and protesters are included, he warned, this government can collapse soon, even before free and fair elections are held.

Rachel Avraham is the President of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights in Middle East (under formation) and is a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research and Public Relations. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Me