Power Struggles,Political Instability,Pressured Mass

Prelude to the conflict

Iraq, to this day, maintains to be an axis of much political strife in the Arabian Peninsula which, was attributed to a split in the Muslim world that has vacuumed much of its denizens into conflict. The Sunni-Shiite divide positions itself as the root to many of Iraq’s misfortunes.  Political Leaders that belong to either one of the beliefs would oppress the other, while in their position of power. Saddam Hussein who was, in all dimensions, a strict and authoritarian ruler who infringed many of the Iraq populous whom the world media classifies as collateral damage.

Iraq’s broken future is a stark polarization from what it once was — the cradle of civilization. It was the birthplace of writing, and in a time where agriculture was everything, its strategic location between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers delivered a flourished economy. Iraq was a part of the ottoman empire that ultimately dissolved following World War 1. This led to the British having  drawn lines to define borders of what the country would be — geographically.  These lines or borders were drawn rather arbitrarily which left the country in a state of ambiguity, seeding the roots for a power vacuum amongst  a composition of different ethnic groups, which are the Kurd’s, Shiites, Sunnis, and a small minority of Christians and other groups. The mix of many ethnic groups , bred misunderstandings that caused a lot of the radical behavior and sectarian violence seen today. The Iraq economy, apart from its citizens, was also a casualty of war. Its level of performance fluctuated during the years, experiencing a sharp increase in GDP ( Gross Domestic Product) when the Sadat

The Sunni – Shiite divide is between to sects within Islam. Firstly, the Sunnis who at the time believe that the successor to Muhammad should be democratically elected based on merit. Subsequently, the Shias are a people of a group who believe the line of succession should be strictly genealogical.

Hussein regime ended. The prosperity was short lived when the American occupation decidedly withdrew all forms of aid, both monetary and military. Traversing years towards the present, The onslaught of ISIS and an involvement in neighboring conflicts, has shaped and even distorted the Iraq economy that is reliant on the oil industry.

The trap of resources

If there is one absolute generalization you can make about an economy pillaged by war—is that in most cases, it is cursed with the richness of abundant resources and in the case of Iraq, that commodity presents itself to be oil. The country lacks any semblance of good institutions and because of this, much of the capital gained from the production and dissemination of oil, is funneled into the pockets of the many corrupt. As a result, the flow of cash directs into the few, away from the development of key institutions such as schools, policing, and private corporations.  The main culprit of this impedance from a constructive economy, is the Iraq Petroleum Company(IPC)—a government-linked monopoly. In the year 2015, Iraq has a gross export of 3 million barrels a day from 2014 following their shared agreement to extract and refine oil with the Kurdistan autonomous region( CIA World Factbook, 2015). This reliance in a singular commodity has led to its monopolization. The state-monopoly mammoths over the extraction, production, and refinement of oil that was a direct result of the centrally planned economy, leftover from the decade of Sadam Hussein. The result of which has profited 90% of Iraq’s entire economy that was achieved solely through oil exports. Thus, many of its investments go towards enriching the oil industry instead of public infrastructure. This domination of a singular industry, leads to a lack of meaningful job creation of the Iraqi public. The transparency international index ranks Iraq to be at the higher quartiles of corruption, ranked at 170th over 175 countries world wide. This correlation between corruption and resources, better known as the“ Dutch- disease”; resources are an infection that symptoms many crippled developmental issues such as malnutrition, infant mortality, and poor health care. Iraq should segregate its oil monopoly into sects of private firms, and reallocate the funds into building proper institutions .

Terror and unemployment

Foreign intervention was deemed necessary in Iraq ,because at the time, it was alleged that the region was accused of bearing weapons of mass destruction during the tenure of Saddam Hussein. The coupled effect of this and the fact that Iraq (and also Syria) was the battlefield-like chess match between different faiths oppressing each other. The game of faiths that contributed to the war also included proxy players such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the midst of all the stability, it was fertile ground for the brooding of terror groups— like ISIS. After the forceful abdication of Saddam Hussein, his successor , Nuri al Maliki perpetuated the game of faiths , rather than ceasing its progression , he continued to suppress the Sunnis wherever possible. A country plagued by the disease of instability would often discourage many investors and diminish any opportunity for privatization. As a result, the problem of unemployment would arise, which predominately effects the population of youth. In the Iraqi Kurdistan region, that statistic has risen to 25% which computes to 700,00 people without jobs. The private sector is incumbent with a rate of unemployment as high as 16.4% as of 2015[1]. A common plight of macroeconomic issues would be unemployment detonated as the occurrence of a high number of people actively seeking a job, many of which are unable to, for various reasons. The economy of Iraq sustained its fracture due to an amalgamation of barriers to efficient private sector investment and businesses, combined with a  poorly performing financial sector, further crippling development.

Abandonment of Aid

In the year 2011, President Obama ensued the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq at the behest of Nuri al Maliki. There was a compromise in which Maliki, suggested that the US maintain a small but sizable force in Iraq to train the Iraqi troops in the event of a future engagement. However, Washington opposed this proposition, because of the asterisks attached to this agreement ; the troops would be subjected to the domestic laws of the country in which they serve. In the end of the same year , much of the conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis have been stifled but not fully resolved. Following the withdrawal of US troops, the violence returned in the form of a series of car bombings to a mass genocide of the Shiite population. As said in the previous section of this report, Iraq has an incumbent youth population, and with the lack of proper educational institution, it is difficult for adolescents to acquire proper specialization for skills to contribute towards the economy.

These situation is worsened when the terror group ISIS, splintered off of Al-Qaeda and captured the major city of Mosul.In times of war it is common that in the interest of safety, the populous would confine themselves in their homes.The prevailing insecurity has seriously hampered reconstruction and investment, which resulted in lower-than-foreseen oil production growth and hence slower economic growth. As a result, Iraqis major generator of revenue, the oil industry declined in export, the value of which fell from 8 billion in US dollars to 5.4 billion dollars.

A glimmer growing faint

Iraq is broken by an entire history of conflict. The dilapidated state of its economy, blundered by the division of people, corrupt politicians, lack of privatization, the failure of the public system and a non-effect judicial system. Nuri al Maliki is stretching his term to its third tenure. What the people need is a leader that does not discriminate either faiths and one who builds institutions transparent against corruption. Iraq’s situation did not grow into what it is today singular to the fault of its leaders, but also because of the carelessness by international powers.

 

References

Al-Tamimi, A. (2016). ASSESSING IRAQ’S OIL INDUSTRY. [online] Rubincenter.org. Available at: http://www.rubincenter.org/2012/07/assessing-iraq%E2%80%99s-oil-industry/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Cordesman, A. (2016). War and the Iraqi Economy: A Case Study | Center for Strategic and International Studies. [online] Csis.org. Available at: https://www.csis.org/analysis/war-and-iraqi-economy-case-study [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Iraq Business News. (2016). Poverty and Unemployment Not Being Addressed. [online] Available at: http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2014/03/05/poverty-and-unemployment-not-being-addressed/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Iraq Business News. (2016). Rise in Unemployment in Iraqi Kurdistan. [online] Available at: http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2015/12/03/rise-in-unemployment-in-iraqi-kurdistan/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Mepc.org. (2016). Maliki’s Actions Continue to Antagonize Iraqi Sunnis | Middle East Policy Council. [online] Available at: http://www.mepc.org/articles-commentary/commentary/malikis-actions-continue-antagonize-iraqi-sunnis?print [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Tradingeconomics.com. (2016). Iraq Unemployment Rate | 2003-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast. [online] Available at: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/iraq/unemployment-rate [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].