EPC | 23 Feb 2021
February 2021 witnessed further military and verbal escalation regarding the situation in Sinjar near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted at the possibility that Turkish forces might launch a large-scale attack on the district that is administratively associated with Nineveh Governorate in order to eradicate the operatives of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who Ankara claims are heavily present in that region and move continuously across the Iraqi-Syrian border, in cooperation with their allies from the Kurdish and Yazidi factions in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had visited Baghdad on 18 January 2021, accompanied by the Turkish Army Chief of Staff General Yasar Guler, to pressure the Iraqi government to activate its efforts to expel the PKK fighters from Sinjar, expressing Ankara's readiness to support the governments of Baghdad and Erbil to implement the agreement they had reached on 9 October 2020 to normalise the situation in Sinjar and drive the PKK out of the region.
EPC | 11 Feb 2021
On the recommendation of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Iraqi government decided to postpone the early parliamentary elections that were scheduled to be held from June to October 2021, which deepened doubts about the seriousness of the new date, especially in the light of the procrastination by the ruling parties in meeting the legal requirements to conduct this extraordinary election. This paper sheds light on the background of the postponement decision, the calculations of the political forces, and the scenarios for the future of the elections.
Zeinab F. Shuker | 21 Jan 2021
Iraq’s economic outlook has rapidly deteriorated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, economic progress and state legitimacy in the country have been undermined by an undiversified economy, as well as Iraq’s dependence on oil revenues, bloated public sector, rigid budget, rampant corruption and weak state capacity. This economic and political deterioration has inspired conflict and instability, contributing in 2019 to the rise of one of the country’s biggest social and political uprisings. It has also left the country with limited capacity to mitigate and manage the COVID-19 crisis and its socio-economic impacts.
However, unlike previous crises, the current economic breakdown and its resultant political consequences are far from temporary. The 2021 year does not promise any significant improvement in this regard, with a budget deficit estimated at 63 trillion dinars (US $43 billion) – the biggest in Iraq’s history and the highest among the OPEC countries. The measures implemented now by Iraq’s ruling elites will be instrumental in determining the future of the country and the overall stability of the region. Therefore, how will the country's worsening economic situation and rising poverty affect its already unstable political structure?
EPC | 11 Jan 2021
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
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.
EPC | 05 Jan 2021
Iraq continues to face the challenges of Daesh (Islamic State, ISIS) inside the liberated area in the west and north of the country, even as the organisation seeks to intensify its terrorist operations in those areas in an effort to regain the lands recovered from it. Under its new leadership, Daesh seeks to prove its presence on the Iraqi front in the light of a fierce confrontation by the Iraqi authorities, with all sorts of their combat forces.
This paper sheds light on the new strategy of the Daesh organisation in Iraq. It also discusses the ways the Iraqi government would confront the extremist organisation.
Zeinab Shuker | 21 Oct 2020
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
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.