IRAQ

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  • EPC | 11 Jan 2021

    Muqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Nominate Iraq’s Next Prime Minister

    Seven months before the date set for the early parliamentary elections, in June 2021, the Sadrist Movement launched its electoral campaign by revealing that it seeks to win the majority of seats in the next parliament and thus have the right to name the Prime Minister. This came through a series of coordinated positions by the Movement’s leader Muqtada al-Sadr and his senior aides, and was met with a mixture of caution and skepticism on the part of the political and popular circles, given the radical changes that this would cause in the map of the distribution of influence between the main Shiite actors and, subsequently, in the Iraqi political balances.

  • EPC | 10 Jan 2021

    The Kurdistan Protests and Prospects of Negotiations with Baghdad

    As a result of the financial and political crisis, the delay in paying employees' salaries, and the Kurdish blocs' refusal to vote on the borrowing law that was approved by the Iraqi Council of Representatives (COR) in November 2020, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Kurdistan region in the first week of December 2020. The protesters burned party headquarters in Sulaymaniyah and blocked roads with burning tyres, while the security services carried out crackdowns and arrests and used live ammunition to disperse the protesters, which led to deaths and injuries among the protesters. While most of the demonstrations were confined to the provinces of Sulaymaniyah and Halabja, which are under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), they indicate the exacerbating danger that may be caused by the economic crisis throughout the region, especially as it comes at a time when the Kurdish Region is about to split, given that the differences between Baghdad and Erbil have reached their climax. Therefore, the Region quickly sent a delegation headed by Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Region and a leader of the PUK, to Baghdad to reach a solution to the budget and salary issues.

  • Zeinab Shuker | 21 Oct 2020

    COVID-19, the oil price collapse and the Iraqi economy

    The OPEC+ member states, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed in April 2020 to slash oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) in May and June – the deepest cuts ever agreed by the world’s oil producers. They aim to stabilize both oil markets and prices, which reached their lowest level in almost two decades due to the coronavirus. Iraq – the second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia – agreed to a cut of 850,000 barrels per day (bpd). However, as with some other producers in the region, Iraq faces both the short-term challenges to its crisis-ridden economy posed by COVID-19 and those that necessitate fundamental long-term changes to its oil-dependent economic structure.

  • EPC | 01 Oct 2020

    Has Iraq Become a Field for Iranian-Turkish Agreement?

    ​On 8 September 2020, the sixth meeting of the Iran-Turkey Cooperation Council was held under the chairmanship of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting approved many common issues between the two sides as a gateway to enhancing their strategic relations at this stage. However, what is striking is that the meeting, which took place by means of videoconferencing, confirmed that the two countries would take joint steps in the region in a way that serves their interests, “including joint military and security operations, in countering terrorism and organised crime” groups. These are directly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Iranian Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). It did not take long hours before reports emerged of an escalation of Turkish and Iranian bombardment of the areas where these two organisations are deployed in the cities of Erbil and Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • ​Firas Elias | 30 Sep 2020

    “Katyusha Cells”: The Long Arm of Iran-Backed Factions in Iraq

    The beginning of 2020 marked the actual emergence of the so-called "Katyusha cells" in Iraq. The killing of the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards General Qasem Soleimani, accompanied by the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Mobilisation Committee (PMC) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport at the beginning of 2020, was the practical beginning of the formation of those cells, which took it upon themselves to attack the headquarters and bases in which the US forces are located, as well as the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Despite the lack of clarity of the structure of those cells and of their organisational and administrative links, what is certain is that they came about as a result of an agreed internal fission between the [pro-Iran] loyalist factions in order to carry out irresponsible missile attacks against the US forces and exert more pressure on the Iraqi government regarding the issue of removing the US forces from Iraq.

  • EPC | 29 Sep 2020

    Iraq is Listed on Europe’s List of High-Risk Countries in Money Laundering Crimes: Reasons and Consequences

    ​While the government of Mustafa al-Kadhimi is struggling to ensure that the salaries of employees, retirees, and beneficiaries of the social protection network continue to be paid after the sharp decline in public treasury revenues due to the decline in oil prices under the pressure of the coronavirus outbreak, its efforts received a severe blow following the reinclusion by the European Union (EU) in May 2020 of Iraq in the list of high-risk countries for money laundering and terrorist financing, along with North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. This step would have negative economic and financial repercussions for Iraq.

  • EPC | 25 Aug 2020

    Ongoing Displacement Crisis in Iraq: Causes and Government Efforts

    Although three years have passed since the end of the war against Da’esh and the liberation of areas of Iraq formerly under the group’s control, political interference has prevented the return of more than one million displaced citizens – primarily Sunni, Yazidi, and Christian Arabs – who fled their homes in response to the destruction caused by military operations. In this article, we will discuss the real causes preventing the return of these populations, identify who benefits from the existence of refugee camps and from opportunities to exploit the crisis in affected cities, and examine the efforts made thus far by Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government to resolve the situation.

  • EPC | 18 Aug 2020

    Differences between Baghdad and Erbil: Economic and Political Consequences and Early Elections

    ​Intensive negotiations are reported to be underway between Baghdad and Erbil to develop a comprehensive agreement on the pending differences over the past decade, including oil, the budget, and the deployment of Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas. The negotiations are held with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) headed by Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, but are facing several difficulties in terms of the current Iraqi complications, which were exacerbated by the announcement by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that early elections would be held in June 2021.