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Will 2018 be a year of change in Iraq?


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Will 2018 be a year of change in Iraq?

Zaid al-Aliby Zaid al-Ali
an hour ago
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Iraq's parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 2018 [Anadolu]
Iraq's parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 2018 [Anadolu]

With the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) now forced underground, and the Kurdish secessionist movement tempered for now, Iraq's next round of challenges will be mainly political. The May 2018 parliamentary elections will lead to a confrontation between two major camps, each with their own distinct narrative and vision for the future Iraqi state.

Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is currently planning a major challenge against current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The two camps present two totally different narratives: the first broadly conciliatory and forward-looking, and the other deliberately confrontational and spiteful.

However, now that the war against ISIL is essentially over, any alliance of fighters and confrontational politicians is likely to have only limited appeal in the 2018 elections. After so many years of loss and state failure, comparatively small numbers of voters are likely to be interested in yet more conflict. The coalition's popular support will likely also be hindered by Maliki's record as prime minister, which very many Iraqis consider to have been an utter failure.

On the other side, Abadi will lead an alliance that will try to capitalise as much as possible on the state's victory against ISIL. He will likely also be supported by Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the powerful Sadrist movement, which has now reinvented itself as a supporter of state authority and the rule of law.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the outcome should be no contest. What is far less certain, however, is whether the elections results will have any long-term implications on Iraqi politics and on the state's capacity to function.

 

As part of his state building programme, Abadi has recently declared that his government will now lead a war against corruption. But everything about his plan is unoriginal: the same terminology has been used practically on a yearly basis since 2005, and its inevitable failure will be a repetition of past efforts as well.

Without major changes to Iraq's political system, any effort to reform corruption will depend on parliamentary approval. Given that parliament is populated by some of the most corrupt individuals in the state, that approval will not be forthcoming.

In addition, even if some progress against corruption is made, over the long run, without major economic reform, ordinary Iraqis will remain unimpressed given how precarious their prospects have become.

Abadi's other long-term problem is that his government's policy prescriptions remain embarrassingly simplistic. Iraq's 2017 national security strategy is the recent depressing example of this phenomena: It satisfies itself with repeating the same type of wishlists that all its predecessors since 2005 also provided for with only slight changes in terminology and wording.

If the Abadi camp and the Sadrists really want to distinguish themselves from their political rivals and achieve something for ordinary Iraqis, then they will have to make a quantum leap in their policy-making efforts.

The first step in that direction is to redefine Iraq's politics and government as a vehicle to achieve specific policy objectives. As obvious as that sounds, government does not currently function on that basis. Government exists to allow for a sufficient number of political groups to occupy lucrative ministerial positions, which they then use to enrich themselves and finance their patronage networks, which they need in order to guarantee their government positions.

The result is that ministers are often the last people to participate in serious policy discussions, and that whatever progress is made in living standards is painfully slow and limited in scope. Even the war against ISIL was led on that basis: The conclusion was never in doubt, and government practice made the effort unnecessarily complicated and wasteful.

Some Iraqis, the Sadrists included, argue that the solution is to form a "technocratic government", which is to say a government that is run by experts and technicians rather than politicians. But that is to misunderstand the problem and diagnoses the wrong solution.

The problem is not that government is run by politicians, but first that it is run by the wrong type of politicians and second that ministers do not come close to sharing a particular vision for how the government should function.

The first step to remedying government performance would be for the Sadists and others to participate in and encourage a prioritisation of policies that they and sufficient numbers of political groups can support.

By way of example, one possibility would be to dedicate the next government's tenure towards making massive progress in both education and healthcare.

Second, the Sadrists and Abadi's coalition should support the appointment not of technocratic ministers, but of politicians who agree with the government programme and who have sufficient-know how to advance it as a coherent group.

Considering the failures of the past, a successful selection approach would have to involving look to a new generation of Iraqis to lead this effort and not to rely on the same tired former exiles would have been dominating the Iraqi state since 2003.

If that approach were followed, it could reopen the possibility of amending Iraq's failed 2005 constitution, which is a necessary precondition for any effort to modernise and streamline the Iraqi state.

Without constitutional reform, vital state institutions including the judiciary will always have their hands tied and will not be able to play their natural role and exercise the type of oversight that is needed.

After the disaster of 2014, and the debacle in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Iraqis are eager for major reform efforts. But they need and deserve much more than what is currently on offer. The country's main political alliances should recognise that and make whatever effort is necessary to satisfy the legitimate desires or ordinary Iraqis.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2018-year-change-iraq-171228090329996.html

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3 minutes ago, NextYear said:

 

I don't see it getting past 2018 without an RV.  The election is tentatively scheduled for May so it would have to be before that if a lot of them want to get reelected without a fight.

I agree with. Laid Back and I talked about this.  My guess is 1/2 of 2018   

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2 minutes ago, ChuckFinley said:

I agree with. Laid Back and I talked about this.  My guess is 1/2 of 2018   

 

Yeah,  one can only hope. If it wasn't for the ISIS issue, I'm sure we would have been out of this this year which I thought that's when it would happen but I'll take 2018.

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3 minutes ago, ChuckFinley said:

Me too, been on this ride waaaaaayyyyy to long  

 

Indeed been in this pretty much since the beginning. I did one thing yesterday to bolster my confidence in 2018 I closed out my safety deposit box and took my dinars home. Haven't seen them since I got them. Thought I was going to find them all decomposed into dust :)

 

At least now I'm ready for the pop and save myself an extra trip to get them out.

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7 minutes ago, NextYear said:

 

Yeah,  one can only hope. If it wasn't for the ISIS issue, I'm sure we would have been out of this this year which I thought that's when it would happen but I'll take 2018.

I think all things happen for a reason. With ISIS taking over quickly, Ithink it set the stage for an urgent changing of leadership. Had it not been for ISIS pretty sure Maliki would be pulling a Barzani and moving in till the country was totally bankrupt. .....

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3 minutes ago, jcfrag said:

I think all things happen for a reason. With ISIS taking over quickly, Ithink it set the stage for an urgent changing of leadership. Had it not been for ISIS pretty sure Maliki would be pulling a Barzani and moving in till the country was totally bankrupt. .....

 

I agree with that one.  I've thought that myself. At least it got Maliki out of that position.

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1 hour ago, jcfrag said:

I think all things happen for a reason. With ISIS taking over quickly, Ithink it set the stage for an urgent changing of leadership. Had it not been for ISIS pretty sure Maliki would be pulling a Barzani and moving in till the country was totally bankrupt. .....

You have to admit that it truly was an act of Jesus that removed both Maliki and Barzani (after all those wasted years).  But then Jesus (the name above all names), always wins in the end.  But see YouTube (Glen Beck interviewing Joel Rosenberg regarding Babylon/Iraq Chapter 18 of Revelation).  

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Quite a few Gurus are reporting ATM machines being a way to launch a new rate

electronicly as the user will have to have a bank account connected to their card.

This will I.D. the user and the new denoms will come from the machines and banks.

Sure would like to see a picture of that lower note. Soo what do you say gurus lets

see the pics.  yadayada

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1 minute ago, Donziman said:

Quite a few Gurus are reporting ATM machines being a way to launch a new rate

electronicly as the user will have to have a bank account connected to their card.

This will I.D. the user and the new denoms will come from the machines and banks.

Sure would like to see a picture of that lower note. Soo what do you say gurus lets

see the pics.  yadayada

 

Someone on here posted a news article about the same thing.

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2 hours ago, Argyll said:

 

Amen Sir!   WAAAAAAAAAY to long!

 

1 hour ago, NextYear said:

 

Indeed been in this pretty much since the beginning. I did one thing yesterday to bolster my confidence in 2018 I closed out my safety deposit box and took my dinars home. Haven't seen them since I got them. Thought I was going to find them all decomposed into dust :)

 

At least now I'm ready for the pop and save myself an extra trip to get them out.

I know what you mean, 15 years and counting. I feel really good about 2018. 

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