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Bobby Ghosh

Iraq’s New Prime Minister May Succeed by Failing

Fixing the country’s chronic political dysfunction can only begin with new elections.

You made it. Now call for new elections.

You made it. Now call for new elections.

Photographer: Iraqi Parliament handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

After the third try in less than six months, Iraq’s parliament has finally approved a new prime minister: Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the former intelligence chief. He deserves our commiserations for being burdened with the Middle East’s most impossible task.

Since Kadhimi has no chance of succeeding, the best thing he can do for his country is to fail fast. The only hope of ending the political dysfunction in Baghdad is to precipitate a new election, allowing for a government with a proper mandate from the electorate, rather than a stitch-up whose disintegration is foreordained. This has been the demand of the protest movement that forced the resignation of the previous prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, in November. It is also the counsel of Iraq’s most-admired public figure, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Ditto, the United Nations.