Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki (left above) is being asked by Barham Saleh, the newly elected President of Iraq, to form the new Iraqi government. He served as a Vice President from 2005 to 2011, as Oil Minister from 2014 to 2016, and as Finance Minister in the Interim government.
Abdel-Mahdi is a member of the Shi’a party the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, or SIIC, which was based in neighboring Iran during the Saddam Hussein era, after being established there in 1982 by Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. SIIC’s militia wing used to be the Badr Brigade during the Iraqi Civil War of 2006–2007. After the Badr Brigade started its own party, the two continue in the same parliamentary coalition, National Wisdom Movement led by Ammar el-Hakim, which won 19 seats (in sixth place) in this year’s elections.
This a bad day for the US, which was pushing for Haidar el-Abadi to return to the post of Prime Minister, especially after the election of Barham Saleh from Sulaimaniyya and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), also long standing allies of Iran in Kurdistan. The PUK stood against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s independence referendum pushed forward by Masood Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), with (overt) Israeli and (covert) US support. Saleh beat Barzani’s ally, Fuad Hussein in with 219 votes to 22 for the post of president. This astonishing win is at least partly due to the Shi’ite majority in Baghdad paying Barzani back for the independence referendum.
Also very a important reason for this outcome was the fact that Barham Saleh is known to be honest. Under his watch running the Suleimaniyah District, he had the airport built for only $43 million, while the facility in fact was worth $80 million. Some British and American companies had offered to build the airport for $100 million (which would have allowed them to share the extra profit with him – a practice common in Iraq, which politicians frequently acquiesce to in order to fund themselves).
Some in Turkmen circles are speculating that the US, backed by the PKK, PYD/YPG (aka Syrian Democratic Force) in Syria, and the KDP in Erbil is trying to create an independent US-run Kurdish Kurdish enclave across NW Syria and Northern Iraq to exploit its oil and gas resources. At least someone is having a crack at explaining why the US wants to keep its troops in Syria indefinitely.