Iraqi Parliament Approves Defense, Interior Ministers

Iraqi Parliament Approves Defense, Interior MinistersIraqi Parliament Approves Defense, Interior Ministers

The Iraqi parliament on Saturday approved a Sunni Muslim to become defense minister and a Shia to be interior minister, state television said, as part of a more inclusive government to help tackle insurgents.

Six Kurdish members of the cabinet were also sworn in after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had held out for a larger share of ministries than the three offered when Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi unveiled his government on Sept.8.

The moves clear the way for Abadi to tackle IS’s grip on most Sunni areas of the country to the north and west and also to repair relations with the country’s Kurds. That relationship has been strained by quarrels over budget allocations, and disputes over oil rights and land in the north.

For the defense portfolio, parliament voted in favor of Khaled al-Obeidi, a Sunni from the northern city of Mosul that is now under IS control. Mohammed al-Ghabban of the powerful Shia political party, the Badr Organization, which has a militia wing, is to take over the interior ministry.

Obeidi belongs to the party of Vice President Usama al-Nujaifi and is a confidant of his brother Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province that was overrun by Sunni IS forces. Ghabban was seen as a compromise for interior minister after Badr chief Hadi al-Amri drew the objections of Sunni parties.