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Iraq: what we left behind

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Dexter Filkins travels to Iraq to investigate the country’s return to the brink of civil war: 

Dexter Filkins: What We Left Behind in Iraq

The capture of Iraqi territory by Islamic extremists, barely two years since the last American soldiers left, has prompted an extraordinary wave of soul-searching in Iraq and the United States. Among…

Iraq elections: Marred by corruption? vía @AjEnglish

It is election season in Iraq and along with the deepening sectarian entrenchment and heightened violence that usually accompanies Iraqi elections, many are asking what is at stake and how, if at all possible, the elections might bring about the changes Iraq’s political scene so desperately needs.

The polls are scheduled for April 30, but there remains considerable uncertainty as to whether successful elections can even be held in some areas – given the renewed and reinvigorated insurgencies in various parts of the country – particularly in Anbar, Diyala and Ninewa.

In any case, voting day is merely the beginning of a messy and opaque process that, last time in 2010, took over 35 weeks to yield a «national-unity government» – a euphemism for a government that includes every political actor capable of muscling their way into an oversized cabinet with little regard for governance, internal sovereignty or political stability. The sorry by-line of the 2010 elections was that no significant Iraqi political actor was willing to occupy the vital role of a democratic opposition… MORE

Nuri al-Maliki

A Crash Course in Iraq’s Electoral Politics

By Adam Simpson (April 21, 2014)
The Atlantic Council
On April 30, Iraq will hold parliamentary elections featuring a total of 9,040 candidates from 142 parties, including forty-one blocs and coalitions, all competing for just 328 parliamentary seats.
The result of the 2010 parliamentary elections carried Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc to a narrow electoral victory, but was eventually defeated by a coalition of majority-Shia parties to ensure a second term for Nuri al-Maliki. As Maliki seeks another four years as Iraq’s prime minister, the political scene has changed dramatically and issues, both new and old, take center stage as voters weigh their options.
Security remains at the forefront of Iraqi politics. The civil war in Syria and the transnational jihadist organizations’ activities on Iraq’s western border have exploited and exacerbated long running grievances between the local Sunni population and the central government. The lingering «de-baathification” legacy has been used by Maliki, some say, to discriminate against critics, particularly Sunnis.
Following the December 2013 crackdown on the protest camp in Anbar province’s capital of Ramadi and the arrest of prominent Sunni leaders, clashes erupted throughout the province. Currently, organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other militant groups have come to temporary agreements with local anti-government militias and tribal groups. The loss of control in Anbar has threatened the rest of the country as well, with militants seizing control of the Fallujah Dam and closing off the Euphrates river.
Its closure has caused flooding in some areas and extreme water scarcity in others. Elsewhere, ISIS forces and other militant groups have staged attacks in Shia neighborhoods, threatening to reignite sectarian tensions and mobilize independent militias. This recent escalation in violence has already claimed 2,650 lives since the beginning of the year.
Issues like dysfunctional electric grids, sewage services, access to water, and high unemployment plague Iraqis across the country.
Despite high petroleum revenues, rampant corruption and inefficient government projects limit the capacity for development. Iraq’s return to the global market has intensified divides over national revenue expenditure, apparent in the enduring battle over Iraq’s budget… MORE


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