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5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Iraq in 2015


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5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Iraq in 2015

It’s been a tough year for Iraq — arguably the toughest in its modern history. Undoubtedly, 2014 was a miserable year for the entire Middle East. But as Aaron David Miller points out in his Foreign Policy piece, there are at least five reasons why 2015 will likely bring positive changes to the region. The challenges ahead are immense, but there is much cause for optimism. So here are five reasons to be optimistic about Iraq in 2015:

1. Daesh is losing the war

The fall of Mosul, the large-scale massacre of soldiers and civilians and the subsequent loss of almost a third of the country to Daesh led many to question whether the integrity of Iraq as a state could survive. Analysts, commentators and media hacks were quick to restart their “civil war” mantra, claiming with almost certitude that the days of sectarian warfare would inevitably return; that clashes over disputed territories would ensue between central government forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga; and that the separation of Iraq along sectarian and ethnic lines was a foregone conclusion.

Thankfully, most of these predictions have proven to be way off the mark. Iraqi security forces have begun to turn the tide against Daesh — bolstered by a wave of volunteers that answered the call of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, in addition to numerous Iran-backed paramilitary groups, fighting in close coordination with newly energized Kurdish Peshmerga and local Sunni tribal fighters, with air cover courtesy of the international coalition led by the United States. Iraq has already retaken key strategic towns and positions including Mosul Dam, Amerli, Makhmour, Jurf al-Sakhr, Udhaim, Baiji and Sinjar. Most recently, Iraqi security forces backed by Shia paramilitary units fought alongside local Sunni tribal fighters to take back the Sunni town of Dhuluiya and in turn ended Daesh’s months-long siege.

There is still a long way to go but the cooperation between supposed rival armed groups has been unprecedented and key to the country’s ongoing military successes.

2. Political will to root out corruption

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Prime Minister Abadi’s announcement in November on the existence of 50,000 so-called “ghost” soldiers made sweeping headlines in the foreign press. Iraqis, however, were not so surprised. Such practices were common knowledge and epitomized the extent of corruption that had accumulated within the Ministry of Defense over many years. But the revelation reflected the government’s readiness to expend some of its newly generated political capital on rooting out the sort of corruption that would create a lot of unwanted enemies. The move also signaled a clear intent to make fundamental structural reforms to the security apparatus. Abadi’s decision to replace some fifty senior commanders within the defense and interior ministries is an encouraging start.

Furthermore, Iraq’s new defense minister, Khalid al-Obaidi, has shown much promise since being approved by parliament in October. He has exhibited strong leadership, visiting troops on numerous battlefronts, and he has sought to enhance military cooperation with Iraq’s neighbors having visiting both Jordan and Iran in recent weeks. The Sunni minister, who himself hails from Mosul, will be well positioned to lead the final charge against Daesh when the time comes.

3. Iraq’s politicians have grown up (a little)

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Since the fall of Saddam, Iraq has been led by successive “national unity” governments (a euphemism for everyone-gets-a-piece-of-the-pie form of governance). Unsurprisingly, these dysfunctional governments have been characterized by inter-party rivalries and deliberate attempts to undermine the government’s ability to push forward much-needed reforms.

But on November 25, something significant happened that largely went unnoticed: the Abadi-led cabinet approved its own internal bylaws, which regulate the way decisions are made in the Council of Ministers. Despite passage of the bylaws being mandated in the Constitution, former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki struggled throughout his 8-year tenure to encourage enough cooperation between his ministers to agree on proposed draft.

Abadi’s success indicates two things: the willingness of all political blocs represented within the government to put their differences aside for the good of the nation; and Abadi’s ability to channel this newfound maturity to bring about much-needed regulatory reforms.

4. Shami Witness is behind bars

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Shami Witness was not just a menace, but a phenomenon. Much has been written about the role of cyber jihadists and their utilization of social media platforms like Twitter to recruit and spread fear among local populations. Many of these parasites were shut down after the brutal beheading of James Foley, but few had been exposed or apprehended before Mehdi Masroor. The war against Daesh is as much about winning the media war as it is about reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria. Social media executives have finally wised up about their responsibilities and so too have analysts and researchers who engage with these venom-spewing extremists.

5. Minorities have not given up on Iraq

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Notwithstanding the brutal decades-long repression endured under the Baathist regime, Iraq’s Shia majority have also had to bear the brunt of Al-Qaeda’s terror attacks in Iraq. But many of Iraq’s minorities have been hit particularly hard by Daesh’s advances. Yezidis, Turkoman and Christians have all been brutally victimized. Entire communities, many of whom had lived in their land for hundreds, if not thousands of years, were uprooted from their homes and forced to flee to far away towns.

These tragic events led many commentators to resurrect outlandish headlines declaring “the end of Christianity in Iraq”. But the unfolding story has been rather different. Desperate minority communities were welcomed in open arms by their fellow countrymen, from the Kurdistan Region to the southern provinces of Karbala and Najaf.

With winter setting in, IDPs will face bleak times ahead, but the solidarity, compassion and empathy that have been exhibited by Iraqi communities across the country are sure signs that Iraq’s minorities will not be left to fend for themselves.

For Iraq’s Christians, Christmas this year was a somber affair. But it was also an opportunity for them to remind the world that they had no intention of leaving their country; and for Iraq’s Muslim majority to reassure them of their rightful place in Iraq. And that was the scene in many churches across Iraq on December 25 – Muslim leaders sitting alongside packed Christian congregations for Christmas mass.

That Iraq’s strength is derived from its diversity has almost certainly become a cliché, but it truer now than ever, and Iraqis of all ethnicities, sects and religions have shown that they have not forgotten that.

Ashraf Rauf

I was unable to put link in from my phone,can another mod add it for me please

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Thanks Dinarkicker,


I was checking out the link and curious about 1001 so googled and came back with Al-badi's twitter account.

yea I follow a few Iraqi politicians on twitter, I use a translation app on some but there is some interesting things going on. It seems they use twitter much like we use texting


Hoping for you and your family DK a wonderful and prosperous 2015. I know it has been a particularly tough year for you and your family.

 Thank you Sir, Yes it has been an interesting yr to say the least. I just have to keep reminding myself God is in control. Hopefully I can be around here more often

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