Iraq’s finance minister resigns over political crisis

Qassim Abdul-Zahra
Associated Press

Baghdad – Iraq’s finance minister resigned Tuesday, two government officials said, over the country’s worst political crisis in years involving an influential Shiite cleric and his Iran-aligned rivals.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Finance Minister Ali Allawi resigned during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to protest the political conditions. They said Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar will become acting finance minister.

Ali Allawi, then Iraq's finance minister, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2020.

Allawi’s decision came weeks after members of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc resigned from parliament and his supporters stormed the parliament building in Baghdad. Al-Sadr later demanded that parliament be dissolved and early elections held.

Al-Sadr won the largest share of seats in the election last October but failed to form a majority government that excluded his Iran-aligned rivals.

Al-Sadr’s political rivals in the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties, said earlier that parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself. They called the al-Sadr supporters’ storming of parliament a “coup” and have held demonstrations in support of the government.

Earlier in the day, al-Sadr postponed demonstrations that were planned by his supporters for Saturday after Iran-backed groups called for similar rallies the same day. That raised concerns about clashes between the two main Shiite rivals in Iraq.

“If you are betting on civil war, I am betting on civil peace. Iraqi blood is invaluable for me,” al-Sadr said in a statement calling for postponing the protests until further notice.

Iraq’s political impasse, now in its 10th month, is the longest in the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion reset the political order.