Country Risk

MPs' dismissal of ministers reflects Iraqi prime minister's failed reform politics, does not indicate improved corruption outlook

03 October 2016
Iraqi lawmakers, from left to right, Kazem Sayad, Hanan al-Fatlawi, Haitham al-Jubouri, and Faiq Sheikh speak during a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, 19 April 2016. Source: PA

Key Points

  • Members of parliament, emboldened by the ousting of Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi and exploiting ongoing political infighting within and between major political blocs, seek similar votes of no confidence targeting Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and potentially Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
  • Further probable attempts to remove ministers are likely to bog down Abadi in deal making and and co-opting with political blocs in order to prevent being side-lined further; promised political reform designed to stem corruption in political institutions will likely be abandoned altogether.
  • Despite Abadi having to invest most of his political capital in resolving the latest bout of political instability in Baghdad, this is unlikely to have any effect on the operation to retake Mosul, planned for October 2016. However, insofar as the ministerial dismissals are largely related to political score settling, there is unlikely to be any improvement in stemming government corruption despite high expectations among the Iraqi population for concrete action to be taken.


On 21 September, Iraq's parliament voted to withdraw confidence from Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari following corruption allegations made against him by members of the Iraqi parliament. On 25 August, Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi also lost a vote of confidence following similar allegations.

The motivations of Iraqi members of parliament (MPs) involved in the current campaign of dismissing ministers are varied. Although some MPs are attempting to question ministers as a means of reforming the government, others are less than sincere and are mostly inspired by partisan interests and infighting, well aware that the Iraqi population is increasingly expressing strong anti-corruption sentiment in public demonstrations. From the MPs' perspective, performing well in provincial elections scheduled for 2017 and legislative elections scheduled for 2018 depends mainly on grandiose statements and gestures against allegedly corrupt government ministers.

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