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Country Reports

100 Days of the New Government in Iraq

by Lucas Lamberty, Nele Eing

A Balancing Act

In his first 100 days in office, the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has demonstrated that he can hold his heterogeneous coalition together and navigate with great skill between the complex interests of the various Iraqi parties as well as Iran and the United States. Sudani's course appears professional and purposeful. Nevertheless, the head of government's balancing act shows how difficult it will be for him to implement sustainable reforms in the country. After more than four months, the government has achieved little, despite far-reaching announcements. The German government should continue to support Sudani on his reform course. Baghdad's rapprochement with Berlin also gives cause for hope. 

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In his first 100 days in office, Iraq's new Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has demonstrated that he can hold his heterogeneous coalition together and navigate with great skill between the multi-layered interests of Iraq's diverse parties as well as in the international sphere. Due to a plentitude of veto players, the record of the ambitious reform agenda announced by Sudani during his inauguration has been mixed. So far, three lessons after the first 100 days can be drawn: (1) Sudani proofs to be resilient and balanced managing Iraqi politics, which is, however, (2) up until now countered by a weak reform track; (3) Internationally the Iraqi government takes a neutral but not passive approach actively pursuing a diversification of bilateral relations and a rapprochement with European countries, especially Germany and France. 

Sudani's course in Iraq appears professional and purposeful while appeasing his coalition partners despite high-level fragmentation within the government. This political stability is much needed after over one year of conflict-ridden government formation. The fact that the first few months of the Sudani cabinet were largely unblemished should, therefore, be viewed as a positive sign for the remainder of Sudani’s term. Nonetheless, the head of government's balancing act shows how difficult it will be for him to implement sustainable reforms in the country. After more than four months, the government has achieved little, despite far-reaching announcements. Sudani's main focus so far has been on fighting corruption. He announced a number of measures to improve the transparency of the administration. However, it remains to be seen how effective these measures will be against widespread corruption.

Sudani's first 100 days in office were not only a balancing act in domestic politics; in foreign policy, too, he succeeded in finding a skillful course between Iranian and U.S. interests in Iraq. Soon after his election, Sudani maintains a close tie to the US Embassy in Iraq and has openly endorsed a continued US military presence in Iraq. Meanwhile he also connected with Teheran. Sudani’s foreign policy is, furthermore, marked by an rapprochement to the Gulf states, and finding a mediating role in the region avoiding conflicts as much as possible. Moreover, he seeks an intensification of the relations with France and Germany with the countries being among the first visited further underlining the importance of Iraq’s bilateral cooperation with Europe.

The German government should continue to support Sudani on his reform course as he appears to be aa promising candidate for an intensified partnership in the region. Baghdad's rapprochement with Berlin also raises hopes for a viable development of Iraq despite the regions ongoing struggles with instability and conflicts.

The full-length publication is only available in German.

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Contact Person

Lucas Lamberty

Lucas Lamberty bild

Head of the KAS office in Baghdad

lucas.lamberty@kas.de

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