Friday, December 5, 2014

A00051 - Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq

Abadi, Haider al-
Haider Jawad Kadhim al-Abadi (or Haider Jawad Kadhim al-'Ibadi; Arabic: حيدر جواد كاظم العبادي‎, b. April 25, 1952) is an Iraqi politician and the Prime Minister of Iraq.  He was Minister of Communication from 2003 to 2004, in the first government after Saddam Hussein.

A Shia Muslim,  al-Abadi was designated as Prime Minister by President Fuad Masum on August 11, 2014 to succeed Nouri al-Maliki and was approved by the Iraqi parliament on September 8, 2014.

Al-Abadi graduated high school in 1970 from Al-Idadiyah Al-Markaziyah in Baghdad. In 1975, he earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Technology in Baghdad. In 1980, he earned a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manchester.
Al-Abadi joined the Dawa Party in 1967. His three brothers were arrested in 1980, 1981, and 1982 for belonging to the Dawa Party.  In 1977 he became the chief of the party while studying in London.   In 1979 al-Abadi became a member of the party's executive leadership. In 1983 the government confiscated al-Abadi's passport for conspiring against the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party -- Iraq Region. 

Al-Abadi remained in the United Kingdom, in voluntary exile, until the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His positions during this time included:
  • Director general of a small design and development firm in London specializing in high-technology vertical and horizontal transportation (1993–2003)
  • Consultant, in London, in matters relating to transportation (1987–2003)
  • Research leader for a major modernization contract in London (1981–1986)
Al-Abadi was awarded a grant from the Department of Trade and Industry in 1998. While working in London in 2001, al-Abadi registered a patent relating to rapid transit systems.

In 2003, al-Abadi became skeptical of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) privatization plan, proposing to Paul Bremer that they had to wait for a legitimate government to be formed. In October 2003, al-Abadi with all 25 of the interim Governing Council ministers protested to Paul Bremer and rejected the CPA's demand to privatize the state-owned companies and infrastructure prior to forming a legitimate government. The CPA, led by Bremer, fell out with al-Abadi and the Governing Council. The CPA worked around the Governing Council, forming a new government that remained beholden to the CPA to serve until the general elections, prompting more aggressive armed actions by insurgents against US-led coalition personnel.

While al-Abadi was Minister of Communications, the CPA awarded licenses to three mobile operators to cover all parts of Iraq. Despite being rendered nearly powerless by the CPA, al-Abadi was not prepared to be a rubber stamp and introduced more conditions for the licenses. Among them that a sovereign Iraqi government has the power to amend or terminate the licenses and introduce a fourth national license, which caused some friction with the CPA. In 2003, press reports indicated Iraqi officials were under investigation over a questionable deal involving Orascom, an Egypt-based telecoms company, which in late 2003 was awarded a contract to provide a mobile network to central Iraq. Al-Abadi asserted that there was no illicit dealing in the completed awards.  In 2004, it was revealed that these allegations were fabrications, and a United States Defense Department review found that telecommunications contracting had been illegally influenced in an unsuccessful effort led by United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw and not by Iraqis.

Between January and December 2005, al-Abadi served as an adviser to the Prime Minister of Iraa in the first elected government.

Al-Abadi was elected a member of the Iraqi Parliament in the Iraqi parliamentary election, December 2005 and chaired the parliamentary committee for Economy, Investment and Reconstruction. Al-Abadi was re-elected in the Iraqi parliamentary election, 2010 as a member of the Iraqi Parliament representing Baghdad.  In 2013, al-Abadi chaired the Finance Committee and was at the center of a parliamentary dispute over the allocation of the 2013 Iraqi budget.

Al-Abadi's name was circulated as a prime ministerial candidate during the formation of the Iraqi government in 2006 during which time Ibrahim al-Jaafari was replaced by Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister.

In 2008, al-Abadi remained steadfast in his support of Iraqi sovereignty, insisting on specific conditions to the agreement with the US regarding its presence in Iraq.

In 2009, al-Abadi was identified by the Middle East Economic Digest as a key person to watch in Iraq's reconstruction.

Al-Abadi is an active member of the Iraq Petroleum Advisory Committee, participating in the Iraq Petroleum Conferences of 2009–2012 organized by Nawar Abdulhadi and Phillip Clarke of The CWC Group .

Al-Abadi was one of several Iraqi politicians supporting a suit against Blackwater as a result of the 2010 dismissal of criminal charges against Blackwater personnel involved in the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians.

Al-Abadi was again tipped as a possible Prime Minister during the tough negotiations between Iraqi political blocs after the elections of 2010 to choose a replacement to incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Again in 2014, al-Abadi was nominated by Shia political parties as an alternative candidate for Prime Minister.

On July 24, 2014, Fuad Masum became the new president of Iraq. He, in turn, nominated al-Abadi for prime minister on August 11. For the appointment to take effect, al-Abadi was required to form a government to be confirmed by Parliament within 30 days.  Al-Maliki, however, refused to give up his post and referred the matter to the federal court claiming the president's nomination was a constitutional violation. On August 14, 2014, in the face of growing calls from world leaders and members of his own party, the embattled Prime Minister announced he was stepping down to make way for al-Abadi.

The Iraqi Parliament approved al-Abadi's new government and his presidential program on September 8, 2014.

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