June 24, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8817

Iraqi Writer: Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi Might Be Leading A 'Soft Coup' Against Iran's Proxies In Iraq

June 24, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8817

In a June 16, 2020 article in the London-based Al-Arab daily, Iraqi writer Majid Al-Samara'i, argued that new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi may be the last, best hope for moving Iraq in a better direction, away from the Iranian hegemony.[1] Al-Samara'i, a former diplomat, discussed Al-Kadhimi's visit to Mosul on June 10, which marked six years since the Islamic State's (ISIS) invasion of the city. Al-Samara'i viewed the visit as evidence of Al-Kadhimi's efforts to fight corruption, incompetence, and national security threats.[2]

The writer argued the new prime minister's reform agenda could be the long-awaited soft coup that will end the suffering of the Iraqi people under the corrupt Shi'ite Islamist parties, provided that he consolidates his power over the Iraqi Armed Forces and reaches a better understanding with the protesters who toppled his predecessor, Adel Abul Mahdi, and paved the way for his appointment.

Al-Samara'i accused Iran's proxies in Iraq of launching a media campaign sponsored by Tehran designed to cast doubt on Al-Kadhimi's ability to make reforms and to obstruct his agenda. He claimed that they are using the public's frustration and Iraq's financial crisis in portraying Al-Kadhimi as a weak leader, so that they can later manipulate him. He concluded by urging the Iraqi people to extend their support to Al-Kadhimi and to refrain from destructive criticism. 

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[3]

Al-Kadhimi during his visit to Mosul (Source:

"It is not a bad thing, nor it is disappointing, to see the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi visits Mosul on the sixth anniversary of ISIS's occupation [...] Even though he may not have the solution that will bring joy back to the city.

"While his visit had two dimensions; tactical and ethical, it may also have been an opportunity for him to see the scale of the destruction that took place in Mosul neighborhoods, on the ground, and may have encouraged him to finally reveal who was primarily responsible for the invasion of Mosul and to bring him to trial.

"The only comfort in the visit was that the visitor [Al-Kadhimi] is an Iraqi, unlike the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who used to wander in the Sunni Arab cities during the military operations against ISIS, boasting like a liberating emperor, and claiming that it was Iran that had liberated Iraq, and not the Iraqi army and its great people, including Sunnis, Shi'ites, Kurds, Turkmens, and Christians.

"It is not expected that the Iraqis, who are cursed with disasters, will welcome and celebrate Al-Kadhimi, who has just finished his first month in office. He himself does not expect that from them. He realizes that he is surrounded by sharks, who monitor every move he makes, and who are cunningly planting their trained agents within his apparatus.

"Political parties monitor and spy on his meetings and contacts, in order to send information daily to the political and operational rooms in Tehran, which in turn instruct them in making moves on the ground and in the media to obstruct [Al-Kadhimi], despite the fact that he was and still is the intelligence chief.

"It is illogical to portray Al-Kadhimi as a savior, as the genius of his time, or as a genie who emerged from the womb of Iraqi patriotism and resistance to the occupation and to sectarianism. He simply represents the second generation of Iraqi politicians. Yet, to his credit, he is not corrupt. He is a product of the harshest conditions witnessed by the political parties, thanks to their own corruption.

"A calm, sensible viewer of the press conference he gave few days ago mill conclude that Al-Kadhimi is independently seeking an agenda that will bring about change. If he cleverly capitalized on the available logistical resources, he could lead a soft coup against the Shi'ite political Islamist parties and their corrupt leaders.

"There are two tools that will help Al-Kadhimi carry out his soft coup: the military institution, most of whose commanders are now loyal to him, and the protest movements, with its revolutionary desire for change, provided that he can unify their agendas and protect them from infiltration.

"There will be no greater opportunity than this one to bring about a fundamental change, particularly when the Iraqi Armed Forces are incapable of carrying out a military coup against the corrupt parties on their own.

"In light of this complicated political environment, and amid general public frustration, it is easy to question Al-Kadhimi's ability to bring change, and it is just as easy to say that he is just like his predecessors, particularly when the motives [behind such judgement] overlap with such goals.

"There are indications that the current campaign of skepticism [of Al-Kadhimi's] is being launched by parties seeking to keep Iraq subordinated to Iranian hegemony. This premature and manufactured campaign may turn him, like his predecessors, into a dangerous tool in the hands of these parties, although, he has publicly pledged that he will always be on the side of the Iraqi people.

"It was surprising though to see the accusations exchanged between [Al-Kadhimi] and Iyad Allawi, leader of the National Coalition [parliamentary bloc.] It seemed more personal than political [...] It appears that there is generational gap between the two.

"Iraqis who are frustrated with the political process and its symbols should not be blamed for feeling that way [...] But criticism will not provide real solutions [...] And whomever thinks that there is a better option than Al-Kadhimi right now is delusional. Supporting his reform program may be the only opportunity to bring about the desired change and provide Iraq with temporary relief."


[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1515, Iraq On The Path Of National Recovery From Iranian Hegemony – Part III: The First 30 Days, June 8, 2020.

[2], June 10, 2020.

[3], June 16, 2020.

Share this Report: