WHERE IS THE U.S. HEADING IN IRAQ?

The U.S. assassination of Qassim Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis near Baghdad International Airport sparked a global crisis with dangerous implications on local, regional, and international security. The question begs itself as to how to interpret the move by the U.S. and what consequences it will have on the situation in Iraq?

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2020: IRAQ’S CHALLENGES AHEAD

Without doubt, Iraq today is worse off than a year ago when hope existed that some of the major challenges facing the country would be addressed. As it starts 2020, Iraq has a caretaker government with a resigned prime minister running a country drowning in mired crises: demonstrations everywhere with hundreds dead, many missing, and a trend of violence taking over the streets which distorts the peaceful nature of the protests; just recently a breach of Iraq’s sovereignty by its supposed ally, the United States, through bombings and killing dozens of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), part of the official Iraqi state apparatus; the response by the families of the victims and PMF supporters who surrounded the United States Embassy in the International Zone, started fires on its main gates, and left only yesterday.

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A SYSTEMIC VIEW ON IRAQ’S DEMONSTRATIONS

Iraq has witnessed several waves of demonstrations since the collapse of Saddam’s regime in 2003, but the October 2019 demonstrations seem to have had a distinct impact on the political process. This should not come as a surprise if decision makers and analysts look at the situation in a systemic view.

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HOW IRAQ’S PARLIAMENTARIANS CONTRIBUTE TO CORRUPTION

In every country, there is a healthy system of checks and balances between the political outlook of officials and the administrative requirements of running the executive branch. The right balance allows the state to govern effectively, giving it the required stability and at the same time make it subject to necessary change. In Iraq however, the informal way of doing things is more pervasive, allowing many aspects of the administrative life in the state to be highly politicized, which causes instability inside institutions and makes professionalism non-existent.

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INTERPRETING THE IRAQI PRIME MINISTER’S PMF DECREE

On July 1st, the prime minister issued a decree regarding the controversial Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). In order to understand the decree better it is important to reflect on the content, realities, and timing. These were the major points mentioned in it:

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IS IRAQ FINALLY GETTING A REAL OPPOSITION?

One of the most critical flaws in Iraq’s political process is the absence of a real opposition. However, during Ramadan and the weeks following, new developments were taking place in Iraq’s political scene, spearheaded by former Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, head of Nasr coalition and Ammar Al-Hakim, head of Al-Hikma coalition and former ‘Al-Islah Alliance’ Chairman.

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DOES BASRA NEED A CZAR?

There has been several news reports in the past few weeks about Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi assigning Hadi Al-Ameri the responsibility to address Basra’s extensive problems. While there has yet to be an official announcement, its seems that Ameri has been engaged with some day-to-day operations related to Basra province, which has now certain media outlets referring to him as the ‘Czar of Basra’.

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THE CASE FOR MAINTAINING INSPECTORS GENERAL OFFICES IN IRAQ

There has been a sustained effort by the Iraqi parliament to abolish the Inspectors General Offices (IGOs), and it is very likely that it will happen as MPs are pushing for a second reading that makes the draft law to abolish them binding. Doing so would be a terrible idea for many reasons.

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HOW CAN IRAQ’S COMMISSION OF INTEGRITY IMPROVE ITS PERFORMANCE?

Iraq’s Commission of Integrity (COI) issued its annual report, highlighting its activities throughout 2018. The report is a valuable tool giving insight on how things are run in the commission, and an overall outline on the state of integrity in the country.

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