Politics


A Review of Iraq’s 2019 Budget Proposal

By Ahmed Tabaqchali, for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts.

The proposed budget law, prepared by the prior government and adopted by the current one (with some minor revisions), resembles the ongoing negotiations on completing the formation of the government.

Just as the participants in these negotiations had left behind the pretence of responding to popular demands and are engaged in a replay of the prior squabbles over the spoils of war.

This budget too is a replay of the prior budgets and a continuation of the old rentier state practices and socialist policies.

For both cases, the old Iraqi saying “رجعت حليمة لعادتها القديمة” or “Halima has gone back to her old ways” is an apt depiction.

Click here to read the full article.

Iraq Recovers Property “Unlawfully Sold” to Politician’s Wife

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government has retaken ownership of a property in Baghdad, after it said it was unlawfully sold to “the wife of a senior official in the previous [Abadi] government“.

The Commission of Integrity said in a statement that “the property was sold by the official to his wife in violation to the legal controls stipulated in the Law of Sale and Rent of State Properties No. 32 of 1986, and without conducting a public bid.

The official was not publicly identified.

(Source: Commission of Integrity)

Iraq’s Governorates Reject 2019 Draft Budget

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraq’s Governorates Reject 2019 Draft Budget

Anger is escalating in Basra over the new government’s stance toward this strategic city and the demands of its people. The continued marginalization of this oil-rich city could spell a new round of unrest.

Voices have been calling for new protests and sit-ins in Basra in light of what activists describe as neglect of the province by the Iraqi central and local governments.

As part of their efforts to organize protests, Basra activists launched the Arabic hashtag that translates into “We are coming back for you.”

They called on Basra’s residents to stage mass protests in front of the South Oil Company (SOC) on Nov. 4 and to prevent its employees from entering its premises.

Click here to read the full story.

Northern Iraq May Be Free, but the South Is Seething

By Ahmed Twaij, for Foreign Policy.

Recent violent protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have brought to light years of suffering by Iraqis in what is known as the economic capital of Iraq due to its vast oil reserves and deep-sea port access connecting the country to the international market.

Basra, a predominantly Shiite city, also has a significant minority population, including black Iraqis and Christians. It is Iraq’s second-largest city and has developed a reputation for fostering some of Iraq’s greatest artists.

During the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military used Basra as a route for the Kuwait invasion; ironically, a decade later, U.S.-led forces used it as a path toward Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

Click here to read the full story.

As Protests Continue, Basra Residents call for Autonomy

By Hamdi Malik for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

As protests continue, residents of Iraq’s Basra call for autonomy

Anger is escalating in Basra over the new government’s stance toward this strategic city and the demands of its people. The continued marginalization of this oil-rich city could spell a new round of unrest.

Voices have been calling for new protests and sit-ins in Basra in light of what activists describe as neglect of the province by the Iraqi central and local governments.

As part of their efforts to organize protests, Basra activists launched the Arabic hashtag that translates into “We are coming back for you.”

They called on Basra’s residents to stage mass protests in front of the South Oil Company (SOC) on Nov. 4 and to prevent its employees from entering its premises.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

Can PM make Iraq’s Grand Plans a Reality?

By Salam Zidane for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Can Abdul Mahdi make Iraq’s grand plans a reality?

New Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi recently submitted an ambitious development and financial plan to parliament, but his proposals will face major challenges — namely a lack of revenues, spreading financial and administrative corruption, a weak administrative system and a struggling private sector.

Abdul Mahdi, who was sworn in Oct. 24, has held important economic positions in the past.

He was Iraq’s finance minister in 2004 and oil minister in 2014. In articles he published in his Al-Adala newspaper, he portrays himself as an economist capable of addressing the country’s crises.

His ministerial platform focuses on 15 points to stimulate the investment environment, aid the market economy, develop the oil industry and find international sources of funding to support more than 100 national development projects.

Click here to read the full story.

Kurdish Companies “moving South” to Avoid Tax

By John Lee.

Companies are reportedly relocating from the Kurdistan Region to rest of Iraq in an effort to avoid taxes and customs duties which the Iraqi government charges on goods exported to southern Iraq.

According to Kurdish media network Rudaw, the Baghdad government considers goods produced in Iraqi Kurdistan to be foreign, and subject to import duties.

Mustafah Zubeir, of the KRG Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Directorate General of Industrial Development, is quoted as saying that about 100 factories have left Kurdistan for Baghdad to avoid this issue.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

Adel Abdul-Mahdi – Hostage to All?

By Harith Hasan, for Carnegie Middle East Center.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi was a compromise candidate as prime minister, that’s his major problem.

A few weeks before he was sworn in as Iraq’s new prime minister on October 21, ‘Adel ‘Abdul-Mahdi wrote a commentary saying he would refuse the position because “the right conditions for success [were] not in place.”

Even if the political factions supported him, he continued, they would soon reverse course once he started tackling serious problems in a way they deemed harmful to their interests.

Abdul-Mahdi specifically mentioned reforms such as moving Iraq away from a rentier to a productive economy, ending the country’s centralized governance system, fighting endemic corruption, developing public institutions, and promoting the rule of law.

Click here to read the full story.

(Source: Carnegie Middle East Center)

The Economic Perils of Youth Nostalgia for Authoritarianism

By Ahmed Tabaqchali, for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts.

The Economic Perils of Iraqi Youth’s Nostalgia for the Return of Authoritarianism

Although Iraqi youth’s nostalgia for authoritarianism in the form of a powerful presidential system as a cure to their country’s ills is understandable, the economic costs of Turkey’s increasing move toward such a system over the last few years argue otherwise, as this paper asserts.

The Turkish experience, nevertheless, provides valuable lessons for Iraq — to avoid the failures and to mirror the successes — as it reconstructs its own post-ISIS economy.

Click here to read the full article.

Iraq Initiative to Empower Women Candidates

Iraq Initiative to Empower Women Candidates run Parliamentary Polls

In order to promote the equal opportunities for women to play their role as an active agent of society and due to the importance of political empowerment, participation and mobilization of women in the Democratic Government in Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of its governance programme to strengthen electoral processes in Iraq, launched an initiative to empower and develop capacities of 200 women candidates, from various political coalitions, who took part in the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq.

Political and electoral processes should be inclusive of women and acknowledge a special circumstances and needs. Women’s participation and representation is supported by many international frameworks, including CEDAW, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UNSCR 1325, UN Resolution on Women and Political Participation, and the 2030 Agenda. These frameworks acknowledge that women’s participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace.

This initiative was aimed at strengthening women candidates capacities with a team of experts on electoral laws and regulations, leadership skills, communication using mass and social media (interviews and public speech), formulation of political messages, political campaigns and importance of gender equality. This training carried out in collaboration with Um-Alyateem for Development Foundation UDF, a local NGO, consisted of eight workshops targeting 25 women candidates each. An electronic platform for candidates who engaged in the program was created to exchange experiences and address questions through Facebook and viber. All candidates’ interviews were collected and disseminated by a YouTube channel since April 15th.

The Country Director of UNDP in Iraq, Mr. Gerardo Noto said: “Gender equality and women’s political participation are at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 and its target 5.5 aim to ensure ‘women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life,’ and are crucial to establish inclusive institutions at all levels, as called by SDG 16”.

The recent Report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (E/2017/66) unveiled that “globally, women’s participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4 per cent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000. Such slow progress suggests that stronger political commitment and more ambitious measures are needed to boost women’s political participation and empowerment.” In the Arab States, the average percentage of women’s participation in national parliaments is only 18%. This constitutes the second lowest performing region for female representation.

UNDP Gender Specialist, Ms. Sundus Abbas stated “UNDP not only believes in the importance of supporting the participation of women in the political process but also it is convinced of the key roles of women on political levels and the added value that women bring to policies, therefore UNDP promote gender team in IHEC with tools and methods to insure  gender perspective in electoral process”.

Dr. Amira AlBaldawi, the director of UDF and a member of the COR from 2005-2010, confirmed “Although  the Iraqi Constitution, in Article (49 – IV) sets the quota for women in the CoR at not less than 25%, and although the number exceeded 84, yet the impact was very limited and did not meet people’s expectations. In addition to the above, most electoral lists heads stated that they will present high percentage of  new candidates, which requires more support to enhance and empower women capacities, to allow them to  participate effectively in the election. This is why we think such initiative is critical to strengthen women participation in Iraq”.

Dr. Nada Shaker, professor at Baghdad University and one of the woman MPs, stated “ I participated in the polls in order to serve the people in need via legislation of Codes that deal with investment and basic services, UNDP initiative was  very useful but it should be conducted months before the election so that women candidates can make full use of it”. She said  “Since I have the skills and tools, I am looking forward to create a parliamentary bloc that is able to make change”. She added “I hope that Women MPs can form a bloc that play a key role in the parliament”.

(Source: UNDP)