Carnegie’s Renad Mansour spoke with Lynda Kinkade on CNN, alongside Ben Wedeman, CNN senior international correspondent , to discuss the major protests in Baghdad, including the storming of the Green Zone and Iraqi Parliament and their implications for the Iraqi government.
Mansour pointed out that the protests had set a precedent that immediate structural change is required, and Abadi needs to move away from simple reforms and rhetoric. The protests, led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, were a direct reaction to the decision to delay that cabinet reshuffle and is the first time that crowds have infiltrated the Green Zone and parliament.
Mansour argued that Abadi faces both internal and external challenges to his leadership, including former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki who is looking for a vacuum and for parliament to dissolve. This is exacerbated by Muqtada Al-Sadr’s strong popular movement that led the recent protests. In addition, the group of elites who have benefited from the post-2003 structure of patronage are concerned that the protests and government shortcomings are a threat to the privileges they enjoy.
Manour added that despite fears that a failing Abadi government would negatively affect the fight against ISIS there was an opportunity for the political class to win back Iraqis who have lost faith in the government and open up a crucial political wing to restore it.