Abadi’s resignation reveals Iran’s plan to control Dawa Party

Iran sees the Dawa Party as an important historical Islamic movement to be used in times of need.
Sunday 16/06/2019
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (AFP)
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (AFP)

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, head of al-Nasr Coalition in the Iraqi parliament, resigned from his leadership posts at the Dawa Party and called for a review and renewal of the party structure. He nevertheless remained a member of the party.

The al-Nasr Coalition controls 42 seats of the 329 seats in the Iraqi parliament. Abadi also heads the political bureau of the Dawa Party, with Nuri al-Maliki, another former prime minister, serving as secretary-general.

In a letter addressed to the party, Abadi said: “On the eve of the Dawa Party congress, I find myself obligated to address you out of my legitimate and patriotic duties. The ‘Dawa’ is a heritage, a philosophy, action, sacrifice and large goals. It requires self-denial, solidarity and ongoing innovation to continue its march to lead the major transformations in our country.”

He explained that “there are no infallible socio-political experiments and the important thing is to review and correct and, most important, to persist with awareness, planning and commitment in accordance with the rules of responsibility and readiness.”

Abadi called for a “critical” review and for the “injecting of new blood at all levels” of the party, “especially at the leadership level.”

As soon as Abadi announced his resignation from the leadership posts, Maliki’s media circles and those of Iran’s allies questioned the intention of the resignation and framed it in a conspiracy context with links to the US-Iranian tug of war.

A close collaborator of Maliki interpreted Abadi’s resignation as “an introduction to the dismissal of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and the appointment of Haider al-Abadi in his place, provided the latter announces his resignation from the Dawa Party. His withdrawal from his positions inside the party is just the beginning of this step in preparation for his final resignation from the party.”

A source close to Abadi stressed that it’s been nearly a year since Abadi has been talking about his resignation within the Dawa Party. The timing of his statements is a message to members of the party leadership to serve the party’s platform and Abadi himself is committed to that and is calling on others to abide by it.

If Abadi’s intention was to make some kind of gain, he could have done it when he was prime minister. Everybody knows how he was pressured to leave the Dawa Party so he could claim a second term as prime minister but he refused.

Since when has holding on to one’s office at all costs become a sign of dignity while giving it up for the sake of the interests and unity of the Dawa and of its prestige and strength has become a sin?

Iran sees the Dawa Party as an important historical Islamic movement to be used in times of need. It has been reported that the new Iranian approach is to remove the party leadership and bring in new figures recruited by Iranian intelligence to control the party.

One of the most prominent of these figures is Tarek Najm, a person of mystery who had been away from the Dawa Party for years but who suddenly emerged as a leading figure by presiding over Maliki’s office when the latter was prime minister. Iranian services strengthened their relationship with Najm to the point that many top officers of the Iranian intelligence agencies stay at Najm’s house when they visit Baghdad.

It is no secret that the Iranian leadership recognises that the Dawa Party, which controls key positions in the Iraqi state, constitutes the best choice through which it could deeply infiltrate and control the Iraqi system of government, especially now that the opportunities of relying on the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) militias are shrinking.

An Iraqi source said: “Iran has become convinced that control through the PMF is not guaranteed because of the poor organisation and multiple loyalties inside the PMF as well as the general trend that is pushing for the reduction of its role under internal and external pressures.”

The Dawa Party denied the existence of US intervention but pointed out that the US Embassy in Iraq is focused on monitoring what goes on in Iraq with the sword of sanctions against Iran in hand, a sword that many Iraqi forces fear because they realise that the Iranian card is heading for more decline in Iraq and is no longer adequate as a source of protection.