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Iraq’s Former Spy Chief Takes Office as Prime Minister

Iraq's President Barham Salih, left, instructs newly appointed Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad.

Iraq swore in a new prime minister Thursday, ending a five-month period of squabbling among its political blocs.

Former intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi became the country’s sixth prime minister since 2003.

He was the third candidate to try to form a government after the late November resignation of Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Al-Kadhimi noted the anti-government protests that pushed Mahdi from office, saying Thursday his government “will provide solutions, not add to the crises.”

Those protesters rallied against a lack of jobs and called for Iraq’s ruling elite to leave office. The coronavirus pandemic and a drop in oil prices have added economic pressure to the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by phone with al-Kadhimi, welcoming his new government and discussing efforts to implement reforms and fight corruption.

The U.S. State Department also said it is granting a 120-day waiver for Iraq to import electricity from Iran.