There may be some promising signs for Iraq in 2019. However, there are number of serious obstacles hinder the prospects of economic growth and political stability in Iraq.
The major plus for Iraq’s economy has been increased oil production which on paper at least seems to set the country on the right course for reconstruction and prosperity. A recent analysis of the situation for Foreign Brief by Tom Connolly predicted the economy will grow by 4.1 percent this year.
Yet, Iraq is afflicted by systematic, security and societal problems that often seem intractable and certainly prevent the country functioning as it should for the benefit of all its citizens.
This is borne out by the GAN Business Anti Corruption Portal’s assessment of Iraq which gives a broad perspective of the plight of the country. GAN warns investors that Iraq suffer from whole spectrum of corruption at the highest level of the polity. Corruption is also presented in the judiciary, police, land administration, procurement and taxation revenue services. In the Foreign Brief article Tom Connolly also cites ‘Iraq’s well reported patronage networks, nepotistic public administration...are hindrances to Iraq’s economy.’
Against this backdrop Adil Abdul Mahdi is still struggling to form a viable government. It is all too easy to see Abdul Mahdi as a bumbling technocrat doing his best within the constraints of a deeply flawed system. However, his attempted appointments to senior positions reveal rank misjudgment. A significant factor in the paralysis of the Iraqi government is Abdul Mahdi's continuing support for Faleh al-Fayadh for the post of Interior Minister.
In a recent article for The Scotsman Struan Stevenson states that Fayadh is ‘a puppet of the Iranian regime.’ Stevenson goes on to catalogue Fayadh’s supervision of the destruction of Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi, plus the atrocities perpetrated by the Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS). Iran’s direct hand in Iraq’s political and military affairs is also covered by Stevenson. He writes that the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani personally pressurized the speaker of Iraq’s parliament to support the appointment of Fayadh.
The current state of Iraq can be seen in situation with Abdul Mahdi’s espousal of a brutal henchman of Iran’s power mongering. Iraqis deserve better than this. Moreover, until the whole Iraqi system is reformed the much yearned for goals of reconciliation, reconstruction and prosperity will never be achieved. A federated Iraq, which has done away with cronyism and rejects Iran’s pernicious interference is the only solution.
Meanwhile, Abdul Mahdi continues to run around the tight labyrinth of the current Iraqi system, seemingly with no option but to play along with the same tired and bloodstained music.