Iran, Turkey, Qatar engage in backchannel talks with Iraqi Sunni, Shiite parties over new speaker

Iran, Turkey, Qatar engage in backchannel talks with Iraqi Sunni, Shiite parties over new speaker

Shafaq News/ Iran, Turkey, and Qatar have been engaged in backchannel talks with Iraqi Sunni and Shiite political parties over the selection of a new speaker of the Iraqi parliament following Mohammad al-Halboosi's ouster, multiple sources revealed on Sunday.

A source told Shafaq News Agency that "prominent leaders from the Sovereignty Alliance, led by Khamis al-Khanjar, and the Taqaddum alliance, led by Muthanna al-Samarrai, have received unannounced calls from Iran, Turkey, and Qatar to discuss the selection of the new speaker."

Another source said that the regional players are in rush and" seek to resolve this issue prior to the local election."

"Member parties of the Shiite Coordination Framework also received calls from Iran to discuss the emerging situation," one official said. "the Iraqi side insisted on taking part in the process."

Yesterday, Lawmaker Youssef al-Sabaawi said that the appointment of a new parliament speaker will take place after the local election in December.

"The issue of the parliament speaker remains vague," Lawmaker al-Sabaawi told Shafaq News Agency. "despite a general inclination to keep the post inside the Takadom party."

Al-Sabaawi did not exclude the possibility of resolving this issue prior to the local election. "It is very unlikely, though."

Last week, state media said that al-Halboosi's dismissal is final and not subject to appeal.

Iraq's top court terminated the tenure of parliament speaker, who called the decision "strange" and suggested it violated the constitution and undermined national stability.

The ministers of culture, planning, and industry handed in their resignations to protest what they said was the "targeting" of al-Halboosi.

Lawmakers had gathered for a regular parliamentary session, and al-Halboosi was in the chamber at the time the decision was issued but then exited.

Al-Halboosi, a former governor of al-Anbar governorate, was elected speaker in 2018. He was 37 at the time and the youngest speaker of Parliament in Iraq's history. He was re-elected in 2022 for a second term.

He has been the top Sunni official in Iraq. Under the country's sectarian power-sharing system, the parliament speaker is always Sunni, the prime minister Shiite, and the president Kurdish.

Now 42, the former engineer from western Iraq who worked as a US contractor after the United States invaded in 2003, cultivated good relations with Shiite Muslims and Kurds, who helped his rise to power.

The court made its decision against the backdrop of a dispute between al-Halboosi and Laith al-Dulaimi, also Sunni. Al-Dulaimi had filed a lawsuit against al-Halbousi claiming that the speaker had forged his signature on a resignation letter, an allegation the speaker denied.

Deputy Speaker Mohsen al-Mandalawi, a Shiite Fayli Kurd, will take over as interim speaker until a new head of the legislature is appointed.

The political shake-up comes ahead of Iraq's scheduled local elections on December 18. Polls for governorate councils last took place a decade ago.

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