Publications

Basra's Protest Movement & Unemployment: Contesting Party Dominance of the Oil Sector

In Basra’s mass protests of 2018, unemployment was central to the rhetoric and mobilization strategies of all the key political actors – protesters, government officials, party elites, and tribal leaders. Basrawi protesters chanted slogans about rampant joblessness – first in small disjointed groups and ultimately coalescing into massive crowds that attacked...

Basra's Political Marketplace: Understanding Government Failure After the Protests

To date, the policy discussion on Basra has revolved around whether or not the newly appointed central government under Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s leadership can deliver basic services to a population angered over many years of stalled, failed infrastructure projects. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the impact of Basra’s unique local political dynamics on the challenge of service provision and reconstruction. In what follows it is argued that the failure of reconstruction is...

Iraq's Disputed Internal Boundaries After ISIS: Heterogeneous Actors Vying for Influence

Conflict between Erbil and Baghdad over the disputed internal boundaries (DIBs) has long been a central destabilizing feature of the post-2003 era. However, in recent years, two major events – the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 and the Kurdish independence referendum of 2017 – have transformed the two-sided dispute over sovereignty into a multi-sided competition between rival military and political groups. This report argues that any framework for resolving the broader conflict...

Iraq's 2018 Government Formation: Unpacking the Friction Between Reform and the Status Quo

This report analyzes the 2018 government formation process in Iraq. It argues that the process is marked by two competing trends, a bottom-up movement demanding institutional change symbolized by a low voter turnout and incumbency rate, and a top-down system that reinforces identity-based politics and the post-2003 order. The failure to officially identify the largest governing political bloc exemplifies this friction and paves the way for political instability. This report is based on interviews...

Iraq's Investment Spending Deficit: An Analysis of Chronic Failures

The proposed 2019 budget law brought into sharp focus systemic failures in the crafting of successive Iraqi governments’ economic policy since 2003. For years, the structural imbalance between current and investment expenditure has undermined the Iraqi economy and is the primary reason why the country is vulnerable to external shocks - especially to shifts in the global price of oil. This year’s proposed budget perpetuates the same flaws. The lack of investment spending, particularly...

Security and Governance in the Disputed Territories Under a Fractured GOI: The Case of Northern Diyala

Originally published in the LSE Middle East Centre blog by IRIS Research Fellow Zmkan Ali Saleem, IRIS Director of Research and Policy, Mac Skelton, and IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn in November 2018. This blogpost is part of the LSE research project Public Authority and Iraq’s Disputed Territories led by Christine van den Toorn, examining the territorial dispute between the Government of Iraq...

Iraq Synthesis Paper: Understanding the Drivers of Conflict in Iraq

It has now been over a year since the liberation of Mosul by Iraqi government forces in July 2017. The aftermath of this successful military campaign clearly represents a window of opportunity where a sudden reduction in politically motivated violence offers the Government of Iraq and its allies the opportunity to deal with long-term underlying drivers of instability that have repeatedly given rise to organised violence...

The 2018 Iraqi Federal Elections: A Population in Transition?

IRIS's second report in the three-part election series, "The 2018 Iraqi Federal Elections: A Population in Transition?" evaluates the low turnout, unexpected wins and losses of competing coalitions, allegations of fraud, and implications for government formation. This report reinforces many of the predications of the first report, " Iraq Votes 2018: Election Mobilization Strategies ," and concludes that the lack of trust in Iraqi political parties not only contributed to low voter turnout,...

Iraq Votes 2018: Election Mobilization Strategies

This report — the first in a three-part series dedicated to pre- and post-election developments and government formation — evaluates the trends in electoral mobilization strategies and similarities between and digressions from those of previous elections. The report concludes that while many candidates reflected those of previous elections, growing disaffection with political elites and rise of a protest movement prompted a shift from traditional ethno-sectarian narratives and identity politics to issue-based campaigns utilizing language...

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