Sources close to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider said that the premier had made significant changes with regard to his security guards, entrusting this task to a high profile Kurdish officer. This was the first ever amendment that a prime minister takes in Iraq in the aftermath of occupation. Al-Abadi’s decision reflects the current political situation in the country and his fears and concerns of being targeted in light of the escalating internal conflict between the prime minister and other political leaders of the ruling National Alliance regarding reforms, government changes and countering corruption.
According to a senior Iraqi official at al-Abadi’s office, the prime minister had doubled the number of his personal security men during this week, entrusting this task to General Fadil Berwari, a Kurdish officer who is the commander of the Iraqi Special Operation Forces (SWAT), and who is close to President Masoud Barzani, Leader of Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The source pointed out that “al-Abadi routine meeting programs have been changed, his exist schedule have also been amended, and even roads used either in Baghdad or inside the Green Zone have been shifted accordingly, a sign of his fears of a potential political assassination.”
In his statement, the official also drew attention that “al-Abadi has lost confidence except in those who are very close to him,” explaining that the prime minister had “lost confidence even in some members of the Dawa Party”. The source added that more than 500 security men are now protecting al-Abadi in different forms starting from the motorcade drivers and even to his security guards. Half of these security men guard his residence in the Green Zone.
According to the source, the “Americans had warned al-Abadi of an assassination plot should the efforts of (former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allied forces fail to overthrow al-Abadi as the assassination plot will be depicted as a Da’ish terrorist act.
The source pointed out that the incident of storming the Green Zone last Saturday was a crystal clear indicator of al-Abadi’s mounting fears over his safety and life. Thousands of the Sadrists broke into the Green Zone, which includes the government headquarters, the Iraqi Parliament, some Arab and Western embassies before the followers announced their withdrawal last Sunday. The intruders accessed to the parliament complex protesting the postponement of the House’s session, which was scheduled last Saturday to pave the way for al-Abadi to introduce the rest of his technocrat ministers as he had presented some of them few days ago. The protestors had beaten deputies, cursed them and blockaded others. In addition, the intruders destroyed the Council’s furniture and electrical appliances before the protestors moved to the Celebrations Square in central Baghdad.
The source explained that the “apparent differences between al-Abadi and his predecessor al-Maliki have aggravated to a great extent.” The source also referred to “mediation of some Dawa Party leaders to decrease tension between the two leaders; such efforts failed to achieve the aspired goals.” The recent developments were “ignited by al-Maliki in a bid to dictate his agenda on al-Abadi,” with reference to the crisis development in the past few days, mainly regarding the disruption of the Council of Representatives’ sessions, in addition to the protests in the Parliament as well as the naming of the new ministers in the government, the source continued.
The source added that “al-Maliki have secretly presented to al-Abadi some names to be nominated for the latter’s new cabinet. However, al-Abadi has rejected the proposed list and has refused to take the names, prompting al-Maliki to turn his parliamentary bloc deputies (State of Law Bloc) against the prime minister in a bid to disrupt the parliamentary sessions and vote over the new cabinet”. It is noteworthy that the Iraqi Council of Representatives succeeded on Tuesday to vote in a session on the ministerial cabinet which al-Abadi has presented to the Council, amid uproar in the hall of the Council by opposition deputies, mostly of al-Maliki’s Al-Dawa Party. The source said that these opposing deputies intended to make chaos in the parliamentary hall, throwing water bottles at the main meeting platform and at the Prime Minister, uttering improper verbal accounts as video recordings and testimonies of a number of deputies prove
Shehab Al Makahleh | Follow him on Twitter @ShehabMakahleh