Iraqi par­lia­ment elects speaker

The Dallas Morning News - - World -

Iraqi law­mak­ers elected Mo­hammed al-Hal­bousi, a Sunni Arab sup­ported by a pro-Iran bloc, as speaker of par­lia­ment on Satur­day, the first step in form­ing a new govern­ment.

BAGH­DAD — Iraqi law­mak­ers elected a Sunni Arab as speaker of par­lia­ment on Satur­day, the first step in form­ing a new govern­ment four months af­ter national elec­tions.

The new speaker, Mo­hammed al-Hal­bousi, 37, was sup­ported by a pro-Iran bloc in­side par­lia­ment, the Build­ing coali­tion, which is mainly made up of Iran-backed Shi­ite mili­ti­a­men — un­der­scor­ing the grow­ing Ira­nian in­flu­ence in the process of form­ing the coun­try’s new govern­ment.

“This is a vic­tory for the Build­ing coali­tion,” Sunni politi­cian Mah­moud al-Mash­hadani said. “No one can ig­nore the Ira­nian in­flu­ence in Iraq; it’s stronger than the U.S.’s.”

As the newly elected par­lia­ment held its first ses­sion this month, two Shi­ite-led blocs — the Build­ing coali­tion and the pro-U.S. Re­form and Build­ing coali­tion led by out­go­ing Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi — came into con­flict, each claim­ing the right to form the new govern­ment.

Also Satur­day, leg­is­la­tors elected Has­san Karim as the first deputy par­lia­ment speaker. Karim is a mem­ber of Shi­ite cleric Muq­tada al-Sadr’s bloc.

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