Iraq Situation Report: April 15 - 21, 2020
Key Takeaway: Iraq’s political elites are conditioning their support for Prime Minister (PM)-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi on the composition of his cabinet. The widening rift between Kadhimi and Iran-backed blocs has led Kadhimi to preserve the traditional system of ethno-sectarian quota filling, to marginalize protester demands, and to step up his comments about the “unjustified foreign [US] presence” in an attempt to mend ties. Behind the scenes, the US and Iran have continued their competition to influence Iraq’s future. Members of several Iranian proxy militias took over two areas in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone near both the PM’s office and the US Embassy, placing additional pressure on Kadhimi to conform with Iranian political objectives as he rebuilds his cabinet. Meanwhile, the United States has announced a $26 million aid package to help address COVID-19 in Iraq and successfully exerted pressure on the Iraqi government to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports.