Iraq forms new government under Prime Minister al-Kadhimi, ending five-month deadlock

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Iraq’s parliament on Saturday approved the remainder of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s cabinet, making Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail oil minister and passing the candidates for six other government posts, lawmakers said.

Kadhimi became prime minister last month after five months of political deadlock after his predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned under pressure from mass anti-government protests.

Parliament had approved all but seven members of a cabinet of 22 portfolios. They passed the nominees for the oil, foreign, trade, culture, agriculture, justice and migration ministries on Saturday.

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Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail new oil minister

Ismail is the chief of Iraq’s Basra Oil Company, the state-run body that oversees oil production and exports operations in the OPEC member’s southern oilfields.

His appointment comes as Iraq participates in OPEC+ talks to decide on an extension to oil production cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic and low global oil prices.

Kadhimi, Iraq’s former intelligence chief, is not backed by any particular party and seen as acceptable to both Iran and the United States, Iraq’s two main allies.

His cabinet nominations were approved after backroom deals among Iraqi political parties and leaders.

Kadhimi’s government faces a health crisis as coronavirus cases rise, an oil-dependent economy in dire straits, the attempted resurgence of ISIS militants and US-Iranian tension that brought the region to the brink of war earlier this year.

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