Iraq in 2011: Protests, Political Problems and Farewell to the US

Another year in Iraq, another slew of tragic suicide bombings and jarring political crises. On the other hand, locals welcomed what economic progress they saw as well as the chance to become masters of their own political destiny, post-US-withdrawal, according to this article from NIQASH.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The two biggest events of the year in Iraq seem to have occurred at opposite ends of 2011. At the beginning of the year popular protests took place around the country. They began in Baghdad’s own Tahrir Square and spread to other Iraqi cities.

In Iraq’s version of the Arab spring style protests, Iraqis made it clear that they were angry about high unemployment, government corruption and human rights abuses; their demands also included better rationing and no more interruptions to electricity supply. Protests resulted in a number of deadly clashes between protestors and state forces. But the biggest anti-government campaigns resulted in the removal of the governors of Basra and Kut from their jobs.

Reacting to the demonstrations, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki then established his 100 Day deadline which would expire June 7. During those hundred days ministers and state governors were to outline a plan for improvement or lose their jobs. At the time, politicians argued about what the deadline was really for and what would be achieved. And it seemed the results were uncertain. However looking backwards, from this end of 2011, one would say that, in effect, the 100 Day plan achieved very little.

Iraq’s 2011 was also marked by the kind of political conflict that reflected the country’s own troubled internal realities. Several important ministries were without ministers – these included the ministries of defence and internal affairs – and as the year progressed, and internal schisms deepened, the positions became even harder to fill. Simply put, nobody could agree on anything.

And this was not just about disagreements between the various political blocs. In 2011 there were also plenty of disagreements inside Iraq’s political parties. In March, a handful of MPs from the main opposition bloc, Iraqiya led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayed Allawi, left that party. They formed a new group they called the White Iraqiya bloc; they currently have ten MPs.

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