Commentary

Iraq's Government Struggles to Provide Stability

Middle East In Focus

Middle East Policy Council

Iraq continues to be plagued by both external and internal sources of instability. While the most pressing problem is rolling back the Islamic State, whose forces have taken over large swathes of its territory, the Iraqi government is also faced with intractable domestic concerns. Those problems have led the country’s prime minister, Mr. Haider Al Abadi, to propose the creation of a new technocratic government. The proposal has had a mixed reaction domestically, with some worrying that an already weak government could get even weaker by losing its political support.

The Iranian daily Press Tv reports on recent advances made by Iraqi forces at the expense of ISIS, suggesting more parts of the Anbar province may soon come unto Baghdad’s control: “Iraqi army troops, backed by fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units, have retaken several areas from the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the strategic city of Hit, military sources say. Three neighborhoods in a district of Hit, located in the western province of Anbar, were recaptured by the army, Major General Sami Kazim al-Ardi, a commander in the Counter-Terrorist Bureau, told Iraq's al-Sumaria News on Tuesday.”

The National’s Faisal Al Yafai, meanwhile, turns his attention to Iraq’s domestic political problems, particularly a recent proposal made by Prime Minister Al Abadi regarding the creation of a technocratic government: “Haider Al Abadi has many supporters, but very few friends. Increasingly isolated, even within the wider Shia movement he is part of, Iraq’s prime minister can still rely on some public support – and a few key allies. Those allies include Muqtada Al Sadr, a powerful Shia cleric, and the United States – which is why America’s secretary of state, John Kerry, flew in for a surprise visit last week....Mr Al Abadi’s crime – which may yet cost him his role as prime minister – is not that he has failed to move quickly enough on reforms, nor that Iraq’s political class is widely seen as corrupt, nor even that ISIL has occupied major Iraqi cities and enslaved Iraqi citizens. Rather, his crime is that he is seeking to go beyond Iraq’s sectarian political system....there is a fundamental imbalance created in Iraqi politics by the sectarian system. Until it is addressed, politicians will never be able to govern in the genuine national interest. Indeed, with sectarian politics, it will never be clear where Iraq’s true national interests even lie.”

Whereas Al Yafai blames Iraq’s sectarian system for the country’s political problems, Kurdish Globe’s Gazi Hassan, warns that the creation of a technocratic government could prove to be disastrous for the country: “How on earth could this be a technocratic government? When all the ministers are replaced, how exactly does Prime Minister Abadi hope to remain in power? How can a government accept the recommendation of the Shiite parties alone when it’s supposed to be a so-called powerfully skilled democracy? Al-Abadi recently urged the Sadist Movement to hold demonstrations that led to threats against Green Zone. Any technocratic government should include specialists and experts in their fields—people who believe in politics without violence. On the contrary, recent moves by Al-Abadi have only served to hide major defeats like that of the ISIS war, a failure to fight corruption through reform, and the inability to retake the city of Mosul....Claims of a technocratic government are nothing but political comedy.”

For some, like Asharq Alawsat’s Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, even the death of the world renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid has served as a reminder of Iraq’s potential and failure to fulfil that potential: “Hadid was not involved in politics even though her father was a minister and a founding member of the politically progressive Ahali group in Iraq. She designed buildings all around the world at a time when her country, Iraq, was being demolished....Zaha’s creations are strewn everywhere. The Iraqi President Fuad Masum’s eulogy to Hadid made up for ignorance and forgetfulness. I do not know what happened to her project to build the parliament headquarters in Baghdad which was announced three years ago. Did it fall victim to political chaos or was it stopped due to the scarce oil revenues? She wanted it to symbolize a rise from the debris and success in an era of failure. If constructed, it would have been Iraq’s recognition of one of its greatest citizens.”

Meanwhile, the Kurds are doing their best to disassociate themselves from Baghdad and define a new future for them. According to a recent Iraqi Daily Journal article, “Iraq’s Kurds have declared independence -- albeit in cyber space. For the first time, the autonomous Kurdistan Region has its own Top-Level Domain – the suffix that appears after the dot symbol in an Internet web address. Websites in Kurdistan or in the Kurdish language can now opt for the .krd suffix at the end of their web addresses, replacing things like .com or .net – offering a home for the worldwide Kurdish community....Iraq’s Kurds have their own anthem, flag and language. But despite an overwhelming desire for their own homeland, they still remain part of Iraq – in the same way that Scotland is attached to the United Kingdom and the Catalans are part of Spain. Ambitions of independence in Kurdistan run very high: Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has said that a referendum on independence from Iraq could take place in October.”


Click here to read previous installments of Middle East In Focus

Middle East In Focus is a synopsis of commentary and news from Middle Eastern and other international media. Its purpose is to provide a succinct and balanced summary of the main developments and views that are often overlooked or not properly reflected in the U.S. media. For the most recent collection of articles on and from the Middle East, please go to: http://mepc.org/articles-commentary/articles-hub. Comments and feedback are welcome at info@mepc.org.