How Haider al-Abadi became PM

Abadi, an ex-Londoner, was known to the Iranians, though he was never seen as a prime minister candidate. “Iranian officials told the Dawa representative that they would support a name that wouldn't intimidate the Sunnis and the Kurds,” said the source in Baghdad. “They believe that the priority today is to open closed channels with other parties. Moreover, they are quite sure the main problem is the lack of trust between the sects and ethnicities present in Iraq.”

Many described the change in Iraq as an in-house coup. The defection of almost half of Maliki's bloc was a blow to the incumbent prime minister, who didn't expect the change to happen in this manner. He always thought his enemies would be the ones targeting him, and even if his allies did the targeting, they would go about it in another way. Maliki reacted in accordance — maybe overreacted — but in the end, he had to abide by the rules, even though at the time of this writing his case was still at Baghdad's high court.

Iran’s main figures and entities stayed silent the first day of the change. This raised questions among allies and enemies, as the silence continued into the second day, Aug. 12.

It’s not only Maliki who paid the price of the failure in Iraq. Many others paid the price, including some well-known figures and others who remain invisible due to security measures.

During the weeks of talks, Iran’s secretary of national security, Adm. Ali Shamkhani, led the Iranian efforts on the ground. He visited Iraq on July 18 and met main leaders in Baghdad, Najaf and Erbil. Shamkhani was given a green light from Khamenei to try to end the crisis at any price. He was aware that the situation isn’t the same as before: Iran is no longer defending its regional security borders, but rather its direct borders; the Islamic State (IS) is now in Diyala, which borders Iran; and the last city that fell under IS control is Jalawla, less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Iranian border.

In Tehran, the murmurs that Shamkhani will oversee the Iraq file have gotten louder. This is an indication that Iran is about to adopt a new policy, given Shamkhani’s historic relations with the Gulf countries and Iraq, his wide experience in dealing politically with regional conflicts and his closeness to Khamenei, all without ignoring the fact that he’s an Iranian of Arab origins.

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