National Interest article: Iraq’s weakness will end in a violent revolution that does not differentiate between one party and another


An American researcher warned that Iraq’s inability to carry out fundamental reforms in its political system and economy will end in a revolution that will not last or falter.

In an article in the National Interest,The National Interest), Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at The American Enterprise Institute, expects that the coming revolution will be characterized by violence and will not discriminate too much between parties.

He said that the expected revolution would result in a migrant crisis similar to that faced by the “corrupt” Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, and would lead to the wholesale ouster of current political leaders “either to the early graves or exile.”

In his eyes, the Iraqi youth taking to the streets on October 1, 2019 – to protest endemic corruption and the ineffective government led by then-Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi – was a warning shot.

missed opportunities

The writer believes that the protesters at the time were ready to give Iraqi leaders an opportunity to make reforms, but the current Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi squandered it, according to Michael Rubin.

The author of the article describes Al-Kazemi as “uncharacteristic” and “politically weak” in a country teeming with illustrious personalities, noting that the task entrusted to him was based on putting an end to the deficit in Iraq, supervising fundamental reforms and leading the country to new elections.

However, Al-Kazemi failed in the mission, despite the passage of more than a year and a half since his presidency of the transitional period, according to the American researcher who explained that the Iraqi electoral system has always been complex.

He blamed this on the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer, and the United Nations staff, who agreed to hold elections in proportional representation and party-list systems instead of electoral districts, and their goal was to quickly accomplish the task.

But the long-term instability caused by this electoral system was evident, as candidates owed their party leaders their political survival, rather than being accountable to their constituents.

Michael Rubin goes on to say that Al-Kazemi did not use his important political position or his moral authority to sponsor the fundamental reforms that President Barham Salih had previously proposed to Adel Abdul-Mahdi, adding that those reforms would have helped stabilize Iraq if they found their way to implementation.

Instead, parliamentarians elected under the old electoral system, which encouraged nepotism and corruption, emptied the reforms of their true meaning. According to the American researcher, the same Iraqi political leaders are today engaged in the same political bargains that enrich them and help empower them, but that distance them from the Iraqis they claim to represent.

Red lines and narrow interests

The National Interest article claims that the reforms may antagonize political leaders, whose support Al-Kazemi needs to continue in office after the elections.

The White House and the intelligence community may be grateful to Al-Kazemi for the promise he made to confront the Iranian-backed militias, but he seemed – behind the scenes – to be lenient with them, like his predecessors from successive prime ministers.

Demonstrations and even assassination attempts define the red lines that Al-Kazemi is not inclined to cross, but the biggest dilemma affecting the Prime Minister’s efforts to ward off threats to Iraq’s sovereignty does not lie in fear as much as in ambition. Excessively confronting Iran would undermine his hope of gaining the approval of these Iranian-backed political movements.

The author of the article cited examples of corruption and nepotism rampant in Iraq, including inflated payrolls, excessive job appointments, and government officials giving themselves rewards in the form of plots of land estimated at millions of dinars.

Al-Kazemi – as the article claims – does not stop pretending to support the reforms, but he does not go further than that; Because if he does, he may antagonize the vested interests of people he needs their support now at a time when his mission is shifting from reform to extending his term.

What saves Al-Kazemi today and saves the system that he supervises is not the success of reforms, but rather the rise in oil prices, while the population of Iraq continues to increase, reaching more than 45 million people by 2025, and it will exceed the 50 million threshold by the end of the current decade.

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