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Bobby Ghosh

For Iraq’s Headless Government, Is Third Time the Charm?

Hope rises for a new prime ministerial candidate, and a path out of political chaos.

Perhaps more divine intervention might help.

Perhaps more divine intervention might help.

Photographer: Domenico Stinellis/AFP via Getty Images

Who can begrudge Barham Salih for his Bill Murray-esque world-weariness? If the Baghdad version of Groundhog Day is exhausting for observers, it must be soul-sapping for Iraq’s much put-upon president. For the third time since Punxsutawney Phil failed to find his shadow on Feb. 2, Salih is hoping Iraqi parliamentarians can find their sanity and a new prime minister they can support.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, his latest nominee for the job, is now trying to assemble a coalition that will allow the formation of a government. The two previous attempts, by Tawfik Allawi and Adnan Al-Zurfi, were defeated, primarily by acrimony within the dominant sectarian group in parliament, the Shiites. Both men were deemed insufficiently servile toward Iran by the Fatah faction, which takes its orders from Tehran.