BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- Iraq’s president named former regional governor Adnan al-Zurfi as prime minister-designate on Tuesday in another bid to overcome months of unrest and deadlock.
Zurfi now has 30 days to try and form a government which must then survive a vote of confidence in Iraq’s deeply divided parliament.
He is the second man chosen to succeed Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned as prime minister in November amid riots. The next candidate, Muhammad Allawi, quit on March 1, accusing parties of obstructing him.
Lawmakers told Reuters that President Barham Salih had named Zurfi only after political parties failed to agree on one candidate.
Some of those same groups rounded on the new candidate, who is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
"We hold the president fully responsible for the repercussions of these provocative steps,” read a statement from the Fatih alliance, which represents mostly anti-terror leaders in parliament.
Zurfi lived in the United States as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein. After Saddam’s overthrow, he served as governor of the Najaf province during the U.S. occupation.
President Salih called on Zurfi to work
on holding "early fair elections” and to meet protests’ demands.
Hours before the nomination, two rockets fell inside Basmaya military camp to the south of Baghdad, which houses U.S. troops, without causing any damage or injuries.
The attack came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraq’s prime minister that the United States would take respond with force if attacked.
Pompeo spoke to Abdul Mahdi on Sunday, a day after three American troops and several Iraqi forces were wounded in the second major rocket attack in the past week on an Iraqi base north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, raising the stakes in an escalating cycle of attacks.
He said Iraq’s government should defend U.S. troops, according to the statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
Pompeo’s threat came after the Iraqi government summoned U.S. and British ambassadors to Baghdad on Friday over a string of American airstrikes which killed six members of the Iraqi army police and a civilian.
Iraq said on Tuesday it has lodged a formal complaint with the UN Security Council over the U.S. airstrikes.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf said the ministry sent two protest letters to the council over the attacks, which targeted positions of the Iraqi army, police and Hashd al-Sha’abi on Thursday night.
He described the airstrikes as a "hostile act and a clear violation of the terms of US military presence” in Iraq.
The attacks killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers and a civilian worker, and damaged an unfinished civilian airport.
On Saturday, a second similar rocket attack on Taji wounded three U.S. troops. A new group calling itself Assaba al-Thaerin claimed responsibility for the attack.
Anti-American sentiment has been running high in Iraq following the U.S. assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their companions on January 3.