Following weeks of protests in Iraq, Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi tendered his resignation. What does this mean for the future of Iraq?
The resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi was accepted by the Iraqi parliament on Sunday. His resignation has comes after around two months of protests in the country, which has witnessed daily violence and bloodshed.
The intensity of the protests has not subsided, leaving Abd al-Mahdi little choice but to step down as Prime Minister, amidst pressure not only from protesters, but prominent political and religious figures.
Abd al-Mahdi will continue his duties as caretaker Prime Minister until the new one is elected. He took over the position almost a year ago from Haidar al-Abadi, who had led Iraq through the war against ISIS. Abd al-Mahdi inherited a country battered by terrorism and a political system lacking legitimacy.
His attempts at appeasing the demands of the protesters, including the proposed amendments to the electoral law, proposed economic reforms, trials against corrupt officials and investigations into the deaths of demonstrators killed at the hands of the security forces, were not enough to quell the protests.
The past two months of protests have been concentrated in the capital city Baghdad and the provinces in the south of the country. Clashes between protesters and security forces have caused hundreds of deaths, which have exacerbated grievances held by those on the streets.
Despite the concentration of protests in the south of the country, with a majority Shia population, the message generally conveyed by the demonstrators is that they are tired of the sect-based political system in place and the rampant sectarianism in the country, which has too often led to conflict and usurpation by foreign actors. The torching of the Iranian Consulate in Najaf demonstrated the latter point.
The resignation of Abd al-Mahdi itself is unlikely to lead to any radical changes in the country’s political system or to solve the problem of corruption. Although it led to celebrations from protesters, who see it as a tangible victory that was brought about by the protests, the other political actors vying for power are unlikely to be seen as more legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi public.