Sunday, October 6, 2019

Why Is Iraq Blowing Up Now?

Yes, Iraq.  It has not made front page headlines with so much else going on, but over the lat several days there has been an escalating series of protests against corruption in various parts of Iraq, but culminating yesterday in Baghdad with one that was met by soldiers firing openly upon the demonstarters with the result being about 104 dead and 6100 wounded.  The government of Adel Abdul Mahdi appears in danger of facing a no confidence motion and falling as it has lost the support of fellow Shia leader al-Sadr, who has a large faction of supporters in the parliament and how apparently is now supporting the demonstraters.

Corruption has become an increasingly widespread problem around the world, so much so that we increasingly take it for granted and get unimpressed by it.  And we are tired of hearing about Iraq, a nation we made a mess of but are now mostly not much bothered with, especially since it appears that ISIS has been largely defeated.  Indeed, opposition to the deep government corruption there laid low while the war against ISIS was on.  But now with its defeat, many want something done about it.

The way to realize the scalee of it is that Iraqi oil production has finally seriously recovered from all these wars, now up to about 4.5 million barrels per day.  That makes it fourth in the world with a bit less than half that the top three have: US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.  Of course the US still consumes more than it produces, but other major producers, including many nations producing much less than Iraq, have large state funds accumulated from their oil export earnngs, many of which are being used to fund many useful things in their respective nations.  But no such fund exists in Iraq.  Billioins of dollars worth of earnings have simply disappeared.  Nobody knows where it has gone to and is going to.  The scale of this is truly immense, and when one stops to think about it, it becomes clear why there is such anger in Iraq now.  The nation has suffered decades of repression and war and destruction.  Peace has finally more or less arrived, and all this money is flowing in.  But none of it seems to be being used to fix up all the messes.

This is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Barkley Rosser


Owen Paine said...

Excellent post

The coverage contrast
with Hong kong is revealing

The Shia populists are standing up said...

Thanks. I have updated numbers of those killed and injured and corrected an error in the name of the prime minister, who is Adel Abdul Mahdi.