Eleven months after the election law was approved, the Iraqi Parliament managed at the end of October 2020 to finally agree on the electoral districts’ formula in the general election law, in preparation for the early elections scheduled for June 2021. This paper sheds light on the amendment of the articles on the form of the electoral districts in the law, the positions of the various political and popular actors thereon, and their impact on the expected results of the upcoming elections.
The agreement that was reached between the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on 9 October 2020 regarding the Sinjar District of the Nineveh Governorate was described as "historic", as it paves the way for the return to normality in the District for the first time since its liberation from the Daesh (IS) organisation, and ends the influence of the Shiite militias and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the District. However, although almost a month has passed since the conclusion of the agreement, it has not yet started to be implemented due to its security provisions that conflict with the interests of the armed factions present in the city.
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.
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.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took the political elites by surprise on July 31, 2020 when he announced that early elections would be held on June 6, 2021. He has since been leading a hidden political battle with the largest parliamentary blocs over the early elections.
This paper sheds light on al-Kadhimi’s motives for bringing the elections forward, the stances of the political elites regarding the move, and the prospects for the early elections.
The visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the US has gained great importance in the context of Iraqi-US relations, given the nature of the major changes taking place in the region and Iraq’s position within the framework of those shifts, as well as Iraq’s position in the US strategic perception and its role in the regional and international balances of power. At a time when the manifestations of the US-Iranian conflict in the region are increasing, Iraq emerges as the hottest arena of this conflict and its repercussions. Besides, the continued state of political instability in Iraq is linked to the continuation of the Iranian role in Iraq and the US continuous efforts to reduce that role and limit its effects.
Iraq today finds itself at a crossroads, beset by challenges and life-and-death decisions. The public protests that erupted in early October 2019 revealed a number of deep structural crises in the country, growing public resentment vis-à-vis the political elite, and an expanding rift between these political forces and the Iraqi street. They have ignited a conflict that has opened the door to all manner of possible future scenarios for the nation.
Following the defeat of ISIS in late 2017, Iraq has entered a new era. A number of key internal and external factors will determine Iraq’s future in this new epoch and will have a significant bearing on the security and stability of the entire region.
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