Iraqi parliament elects speaker
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.