11 December 2018
English Arabic
The angry demonstrations in central and southern Iraq are not, as some would like to dismiss them, a seasonal phenomenon caused by the excessive summer heat or demands for electricity and potable water. Rather, they represent a peaceful popular uprising rejecting the government’s policies and the corruption structures that have gripped Iraqi governments for 12 years. It is an uprising against those who have looted the people’s wealth and against the ruling parties that have turned Iraq into one of…
On Monday, July 16, Iraqi protesters in the southern oil city of Basra burned a poster of Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei, shouting “Iran out!” It was the culmination of a week of protests targeting Iraqi government and party offices as well as Iran, as people expressed anger over lack of jobs, electricity, water and infrastructure in southern Iraq. Now Baghdad has suppressed the protests with Iranian-backed militias and the U.S.-trained Iraqi army. U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have warned that these Iranian-backed militias are a threat and…
Protests that began last week in Iraq are continuing amid widespread anger over abysmal public services provision by the government. The unrest threatens to delay formation of a new government, mandated after Iraq’s elections in May, and has already led to break-ins to oil facilities and political offices. First sparked in the oil-rich southern province of Basra and spreading to several cities including the capital Baghdad, Iraqis are voicing their frustrations over widespread unemployment, pollution, dirty drinking water and electricity failures during a…

Iraq in downward spiral Tuesday, 17 July 2018 14:09

Recent events in Iraq have shown the central government is losing control of the country. The riots in Basa and elsewhere over unemployment and lack of government services continue to show that the people of Iraq have lost confidence in their government.  The poor turnout in the last elections and the better than expected results for Muqtada al-Sadr should be forcing the power elites to reassess the government, but it is not.  The movement of military units into the troubled…

Iranian hands behind Iraq’s protests Monday, 16 July 2018 22:04

Over the last few days, Iraq’s southern provinces have witnessed widespread protests, with some turning violent. Protesters voiced legitimate demands, but also attacked vital public facilities, such as Najaf International Airport, leading to the suspension of its operations. Offices of political parties were also attacked in what appeared to be a continuation of the political violence taking place elsewhere in Iraq following the May 12 parliamentary elections. There are two key actors that have an interest in destabilizing Iraq: Daesh…
Oil prices are rising, and they may keep going up at least until the end of the year. This means that Iraq’s budget, which was facing major deficit and which was going to be covered via foreign debts, may be able to overcome the earlier shortfall and come into surplus. This year’s budget was based on the estimate that the price of oil will not exceed more than $46 per barrel, while the price currently stands at about $70. As…
Though there is talk of reforming this system, it is politically dangerous to do so because the networks of corruption and patronage established themselves too long ago and involve too many powerful people and parties Iraqis disagree about many things but on one topic they are united: they believe they live in the most corrupt country in the world, barring a few where there is nothing much to steal. They see themselves as victims of a kleptomaniac state where hundreds…
Time is ticking for Iraq to form a new government. The current Parliament’s term expires on June 30th, and so far there is no confirmed successor. A dominant bloc does appear to have been hewn over the past week between the two biggest victors of the May 2018 election. However, the bloc has not gotten its victory yet. There is still a long way to go, and even if they succeed, they have made promises to the Iraqi people that…
BAGHDAD—As Iraq’s fragmented political forces negotiate how to form a new government following last month’s elections, two issues loom large. Will Iraq’s recent policy of carefully balancing ties with Iran and its rivals, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia—an approach championed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi—survive in a new political environment? And will Iraq’s new government be able to take painful steps to jump-start economic reforms, eliminating inefficient subsidies and dismantling corrupt patronage networks that stifle development? The May 12 election dealt a major…

Are Iraq's Communists on the rise again? Wednesday, 23 May 2018 22:26

It can only be regarded as a remarkable comeback. Communists, after decades in Iraq’s political wilderness, have formed an unexpected alliance with populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who swept to victory in the country’s parliamentary elections. The electoral commission announced that the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) had attained just two seats in parliament. But, crucially, their coalition with Mr Al Sadr's Marching Towards Reform bloc (Sairoun) may give them a voice in the next government. Forty-four year old Sadr…
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran’s favored candidates to come in first in national elections, says he wants to form a government that puts Iraqis first. The electoral commission announced early Saturday that the militant-turned-populist preacher, who has long spoken out against both Iranian and U.S. influence in Iraq, had defeated his establishment rivals. Al-Sadr — who is remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion —…

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