At least 294 people were killed on Saturday as parliament finished approving the new government for Iraq. Another 66 were wounded. Bombers took a break from attacking Baghdad. Iraqi airstrikes on militant locations claimed most of the fatalities.
Lawmakers finally approved Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi‘s selections for several ministerial positions, including those at the defense and interior ministries. Filling these two posts delayed the creation of the new government.
Former P.M. Nouri al-Maliki had appointed himself head of both the defense and interior ministries in 2010 to avoid a protracted battle over them. But, he also garnered widespread accusations that he was consolidating power through the posts. Even before that, the interior ministry was feared by Sunnis and known to host "Shi’ite death squads" within its police ranks. Both posts hold power over extensive security personnel.
The new interior minister will be Mohammed al-Ghabban, who is tied to the Badr Organization. That organization was thought to be the source of the death squads, when it was the militia wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Ghabban was the compromise selection after Sunnis objected to Badr head, Hadi al-Amri.
A Sunni was selected for the defense post. Khaled al-Obeidi is from Mosul and brother to Ninewa province’s governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi. The Kurds were able to lever their power and gain six posts in all, three more than was expected.