Iraq is not yet lost, but if we continue to ignore it, it soon will be


Iraq is not yet lost, but if we continue to ignore it, it soon will be
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Open debate and free peaceful protest are rare in the Arab world. This month I saw both, when I traveled to Iraq.

I attended a conference where Iraqi men and women debated and publicly asked tough questions of their government. I also saw a small group of peaceful protesters on Oct. 1; at that point, security personnel calmly stood by.

Sixteen years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq faces daunting challenges, but it still has a degree of freedom that no country in the Middle East except Israel and perhaps Tunisia enjoy. If the U.S. continues to ignore Iraq, this hard-fought and fragile freedom will be lost.

Security and economic opportunities matter; the Iraqis protested this month because they are rightfully fed up with lack of basic services, widespread corruption and unemployment, as well as growing Iranian influence in their country.

This frustration doesn’t only come from Iraqi Sunnis, but from Shiites as well. Indeed, polls show that sectarianism in Iraq has declined in recent years, replaced by a revival of nationalism. This is a positive development.

Yet Iraq is at a crossroads. As the peaceful and spontaneous demonstrations spread, security services opened fire, and instated curfews and internet blackouts.

Over 100 protesters were killed and thousands injured. Iraqi President Barham Salih condemned the use of lethal force against protesters and promised to bring those responsible to justice. It is up to the Iraqi government to follow through with this promise, and to implement genuine reforms. But the U.S. cannot turn away.

In my time in Baghdad, my mind periodically turned to Russia, the country of my birth — a country that lost its opportunity in the 1990s to transition to a democracy. Vladimir Putin emerged as a result, reconsolidating power and eviscerating post-Soviet Russia’s nascent democracy.

I cannot speak for the many, but some in Baghdad privately expressed concern to me that if things don’t change soon, they feared another strongman could emerge.

That is the last thing they want, as the security promoted by would-be strongmen is often illusionary, and dictators historically bring ruin rather than renaissance to the country.

Iraqis are right to protest the deep and growing Iranian influence in their country, but the situation is even worse than they may realize. Other authoritarians also have their sights set on Iraq, and without American involvement, it is easier for them to make inroads.

The Kremlin — which fiercely opposed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 — had worked for years to return to Iraq, and has accelerated its efforts in recent years. Turkey too has recently agreed to support Iraq’s electricity, while Baghdad has also turned to China for financing reconstruction.

America’s Iraq fatigue set in years ago. Barack Obama, then a Democratic senator of Illinois, campaigned on getting American troops out of the country. It has been almost a decade since on then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came to Baghdad to officially end the U.S. mission, creating a vacuum, which the Islamic State soon filled. Now increasingly Americans — and President Trump — talk of getting out of “endless wars.”

Much can be said about mistakes made after the 2003 invasion, but there is no denying it brought freedom. Forty percent of Iraqis were born after 2003, and know only Iraq’s shaky democracy. But as memory fades of Saddam, they risk believing the alternative promises more.

Iraq is not yet lost. But if we continue to ignore it, it soon will be.

Anna Borshchevskaya is senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

OPEC asks Iraq: Why Kurdistan has not committed to exporting oil in Somo


Home | Economie

By Ali 17/10/2019 01:40 AM | Number Of Hits: 385

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Ahd News – Basra

Iraq received a question from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Wednesday on the reasons for the failure of Iraqi Kurdistan to export oil within the framework of SOMO.

The head of the Energy Committee in Basra, Shaddad al-Faris, in a statement received “Al-Ahd News” copy, that “the export of Iraqi Kurdistan oil outside the controls of the federal government will reflect on Iraq’s oil policy abroad.”

He added that “the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has asked Iraq about the reasons for Kurdistan’s export of oil outside Iraqi exports, without counters and anonymous imports.”

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Al-Halbousi assures US Assistant Secretary of State of the importance of opening investment to international and local companies and activating the private sector


AQ NEWS NOW2019/10/16 09:34:12 PM Print102
Al-Halbousi assures US Assistant Secretary of State of the importance of opening investment to international and local companies and activating the private sector

Baghdad / Al-Ghad Press:

Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi discussed with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker on Wednesday bilateral relations and economic and security cooperation.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the Speaker of the Parliament received a copy of “tomorrow,” Halbousi “stressed the importance of opening investment to international companies and local and activate the private sector, to provide jobs for young people, reduce unemployment, and work to combat corruption.”

The statement added that the two sides “discussed the political developments in the country, the file of demonstrations, the most prominent demands of demonstrators and ways to address them, as well as discussing the package of decisions and reforms issued by the House of Representatives and the ministers to meet their demands, and emphasize the importance of peaceful demonstrations, the protection of demonstrators, freedom of expression and non-aggression. On demonstrators and security forces, preventing engineers from making a gap between them. “

The statement also pointed out that Halbousi and Shankar “discussed the latest international and regional developments, and their impact on Iraq and the region, and cooperation to achieve stability.”

For his part, asserted US Assistant Secretary of State “cooperation with Iraq in the war against terrorism, and the pursuit of terrorist cells of ISIS, and support the Iraqi government in the file of reforms.”