The Trouble with Halbousi: The Rise of, and Resistance to, Iraq's Sunni Strongman


Author: Simona Foltyn

This paper examines the rise of and the recent opposition to Iraqi parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi in his home province Anbar and, more broadly, within Iraq’s Sunni political scene. Halbousi is a young, ambitious politician who has served as member of parliament, governor of Anbar province and has recently been re-elected for a second term as the speaker of parliament, the most powerful Sunni position in Shiʿa-majority Iraq, where senior government positions are apportioned on an ethnic and sectarian basis. But his striking ascent has been overshadowed by his reputation of a cunning and ruthless politician who has used ‘money and force’ to consolidate his grip on power. This paper sheds light on Halbousi’s extraordinary trajectory, examining the reasons for mounting discontent and the implications for stability and representation in Sunni areas.

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