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Haider Jawad al-Abadi

Haider al-Abadi has a reputation as a political moderate, a skilled conciliator and an expert on economic development. Haider Jawad al-Abadi is a political insider who spent much of his life living outside the country. Because of his broad appeal, Mr. al-Abadi was often mentioned as a potential Prime Minister in 2006 and 2010. During 2005, he served as an advisor to the Prime Minister in the first elected government.

A fair amount is known about Abadi. Born in Baghdad, he is the son of a prominent Baghdad doctor and health official. Saddam’s Iraq regime arrested two of his brothers in 1980 for their affiliation with the Dawa party and executed them two years later. In 1981, the regime arrested a third brother for the same reason and jailed him for 10 years.

Educated at the University of Baghdad, with a doctorate in engineering from the University of Manchester in Britain, Mr. al-Abadi lived in exile in London while Saddam Hussein’s regime ruled Iraq. Trained as an electric consultant engineer, al-Abadi worked for private companies in Britain, serving as director-general of a high-tech transportation design and development firm in London from 1993 through 2002. Abadi worked fairly successfully in the “rapid transit” (people movers, urban rail, etc) field in London from the 1980’s until the early 2000’s. During his time in London, Abadi was an active leader of Dawa in exile and even ran a café for Iraqi expatriates.

After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he entered Iraq’s second rank of politicians. Following the overthrow of Saddam’s regime, Mr. al-Abadi returned to Iraq in 2003 to help build the new democracy and revive the economy. He served as Minister of Communications from September 2003 through 2004. As communications minister, he rebuilt telephone systems destroyed by war and brought in the first mobile and internet contracts.

In 2005, he was elected to parliament and was re-elected in March 2010. He became chairman of the Finance Committee in 2013,While serving as the chair of the Iraqi Parliament’s Finance Committee, Abadi was the point man in a highly contentious and damaging struggle with the Kurds regarding allocations in the 2013 budget. As chair of the finance committee he was tasked with overhauling Iraq’s budget. One of Iraq’s most influential lawmakers, he was elected deputy speaker of Parliament in 2014.

Iraq held parliamentary elections in April 2014, in which Maliki’s “State of Law” coalition won an unexpected majority of seats. On July 24, the new parliament selected Fuad Masoum, a Kurd, to serve as Iraq’s new president. Iraq’s constitution gives the president two weeks to select a prime minister, who must come from parliament’s largest bloc. The United States played an important role in persuading Abadi to start splitting Maliki’s party from within in July 2014.

Maliki was confident he would serve a third term. But since his last appointment, he has fallen out of political favor, blamed for Iraq’s sectarian divide, rampant corruption and the threat of Islamic militants who have seized the north. Masoum extended the deadline twice, and an angry Maliki took to the airwaves and threatened to take Masoum to court. The following day, August 11, Masoum named Abadi premier.

Abadi received the three biggest endorsements in the Sunni world — the Saudis, the Arab League, and Turkey’s Islamist President-elect and former Prime Minister Erdogan — as swiftly as he received that of the regime in Tehran. Abadi pledged to protect all Iraqis and called on them to set aside their differences and unite toward a common vision for the future. He promised Maliki would remain a key political partner and he praised his predecessor’s efforts to confront terrorism. He also announced his intention to “rebuild and re-train” Iraq’s army in order to defeat Islamist militants and promised a "strong and inclusive government and pledged to "fight corruption.”

Identified by the Middle East Economic Digest as a key person to watch in Iraq’s reconstruction, he is a leading member of the Iraq Petroleum Advisory Committee, having participated in the Iraq Petroleum Conferences from 2009 through 2012. As a senior leader in Iraq’s Dawa Party and a member of the governing State of Law Coalition, al-Abadi had a strong political base. Enjoying good relations with all political blocs, he is an advocate for national reconciliation across religious, regional and ethnic lines.

In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Mehdi Hasan, Mr. al-Abadi declared: “We have to be careful not to become involved in a sectarian war. Shias are not against Sunnis, and Sunnis are not against Shias.”

Reflecting widespread respect for Mr. al-Abadi’s skills at diplomacy, at home and abroad, many leading academic experts on Iraq have said he stands a strong chance of forming a government of national unity. Nominated as Prime Minister on August 11, 2014, by Iraq’s President Fuad Masum, Mr. al-Abadi must form a government and be confirmed by Parliament within 30 days of his appointment.

Iraq celebrated its victory over the Islamic State with a military parade 10 December 2017 in the capital, a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the successful ouster of the jihadist group from the country. The parade was not broadcast live and state media were the only ones allowed to attend. Witnesses say Iraqi army units in the parade marched across the main square in central Baghdad as helicopters and fighter jets flew overhead. Prime Minster Abadi thanked Iraqi forces "for their service" and remembered "those who gave the ultimate sacrifice."

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi resigned 08 September 2018 when his alliance with a populist cleric who won the May elections crumbled by tremendous unrest shaking the south of the country. Parliament had called on Abadi to resign after lawmakers held an emergency meeting on public rage seething in the southern city of Basra. The second list in parliament, the Conquest Alliance, condemned "the government's inability to solve the crisis in Basra", where 12 demonstrators were killed this week in clashes with the forces safety. The Conquest Alliance of former pro-Iranian paramilitary fighters was "on the same wavelength" on Sadr's Marching Towards Reform list and worked together to form a new government.

Abadi had a reputation in Iraq for his British associations, and Iran had little to do with his emergence. Abadi made it clear that the United States, not Iran, is his military provider-of-choice in the fight against the militant jihadist group Islamic State.

Mr. Abadi is married and has three children.

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Page last modified: 03-10-2018 13:09:18 ZULU