Iraq’s Discontent – Its Roots and How to Begin Fixing It
The problems for Iraq are deep-rooted and institutional, and if not addressed, it may escalate into revolution.
Iraq’s against poverty, a lack of basic services, unemployment, and the interference of Iran in the country’s domestic affairs showed a country at the end of its tether. Official figures in the violent crackdown of protesters at 157.
Since 2011, that challenged elite dominance or questioned the government have been violently repressed. Iran’s presence has increased as the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq has become dependent on the Iranian to maintain order in Iraq.
Indeed, there have been reports that snipers were deployed by Iranian-backed militias in the latest round of protests in October.
The problems for Iraq are deep-rooted and institutional, and if not addressed may yet escalate into a full-scale revolution. What’s needed is reform of the country’s 2005 constitution, which was written during a period of political instability after a war and occupation ridden by conflict. The only way for Iraq to have a chance at prosperity and peace is by addressing its flawed foundations which were heavily influenced by the occupiers.
Iraq’s 2005 constitution, which was , failed to create a unified, representative government. Ambiguities within the document have been abused by those in power and it has exacerbated sectarian divisions within Iraq’s politics. The constitution created a system in which public sector and government roles are allocated based on sect and ethnicity.
Iraq has become a nation that is for the few and not the many, as unrepresentative Iraqi political elites bid to share out its resources. Millions of Iraqis are left unrepresented and without prospects.
While the majority of citizens are discontented and struggling, Iraq’s elites remain fortified and continue to govern through a system known as “wasta”, which involves serving those you favour and hold close, such as friends and family.
Divides along ethnic and sectarian lines remain a key theme when identifying the causes of disagreement between competing sects who unite to form political blocs in Iraq’s government.
The lengthy government formation process that takes place after elections is dependent on the division of key state institutions based on ethnic and sectarian identities.
To achieve this, political parties form blocs with and against each other to achieve their goals, with the biggest becoming the governing bloc.
Although Iraqi elites are divided based on ethnicity, sect and religion, this race for power – and with it the ability to distribute and share the country’s resources – creates a unity between elites.
'Air strikes' hit Syria-Iraq border
For example, in three separate parliamentary elections since 2003, the . In the 2014 elections, Nouri al-Maliki, as the head of the State of Law coalition, , yet due to disagreements over government formation and the fight against Islamic State, he was replaced by Haider al-Abadi.
In the 2018 elections, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saairun coalition won a majority, but it was eventually Adil Abdul-Mahdi, an independent, who was chosen as prime minister.
Ministerial fiefdoms where political parties are given ministries in exchange for support to form governing blocs have created a dysfunctional government. It means there is no clear governmental strategy, which in turn severely impedes development.
The mechanics of this power-sharing system are illustrated by coalitions of oligarchs who use public institutions to distribute favours to clients. Political parties control government procurement and reconstruction contracts, who either auction them off, or set up .
Democracy in Theory Only
In order for Iraq to ever be able to meet the growing demands of its people and the challenges of prospering on the global stage, immediate political reform is needed.
The reform process must directly address the rushed and divisive constitution. This needs to be followed by the democratisation of Iraq’s institutions and the re-creation of Iraq’s national identity so the country can escape the worst of its sectarianism and become more unified as a nation.
Without all of these issues addressed with equal importance, the cycle of adversity will continue as Iraq will remain a reactive as opposed to proactive nation.
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(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
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