Iraq intel chief appointed new PM-designate after predecessor withdraws

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Iraqi President Barham Salih named Mustafa al-Kazemi, the head of Iraq’s intelligence, as Prime Minister-designate on Thursday after Adnan al-Zurfi, apologized and ended his bid to form a new government.

The new prime minister nomination ceremony was attended by the country’s top political figures, indicating widespread support for al-Kademi that both previous PM-designates had not enjoyed.

Al-Kademi, the 53-year-old head of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, has long had close links with the United States but political sources say he has also improved ties with Washington’s foe, Tehran, in recent months.

Iraqi Prime Minister designate Adnan al-Zurfi announced on Thursday his withdrawal from the role of forming a new government, the Iraqi News Agency reported.

“My withdrawal is to preserve the unity of Iraq,” he said, according to the news agency.

Al-Zurfi was named as Prime Minister-designate in mid-March, following the withdrawal of then Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi.

He is a former official who helped take over Iraq after Saddam Hussein was removed from power by the US invasion in 2003.

These efforts to establish a new government follow the resignation of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who stepped down in December after widespread demonstrations decrying his ineptitude and wrongdoing.

Read more: Iraq’s new prime minister faces a delicate balancing act

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