Iraq and Energy: A Political Perspective

An essential element of stable democratic rule in the new Iraq will be consensus not necessarily on the aims of government but on the rules of governance and the need to accept democratic outcomes. One of the most significant features of the elections in March 2010 was the fact that all communities in Iraq participated. They agreed then that elections were an important opportunity to make choices about politics: and that politics not violence is the way forward. That is worth preserving.

Politicians anywhere need to lead, communicate a compelling vision and deliver security, prosperity and social equity. Where the social divides and national threats are as acute as in Iraq and its future orientation still contested, the challenges for elected politicians are that much greater. In Iraq it is not simply about minor adjustments of course. It is about significant differences in direction: east or west, north or south, centralism or federalism, religion versus secularism, Arab or Kurd, Sunni or Shia. The encouraging thing is that these differences continue to be resolved politically not through violence, in spite of the efforts of terrorists. That is a reflection of maturity.

The Iraqi government in Baghdad and the KRG are together leading Iraq towards a better future. Oil revenues are set to increase significantly over the next few years. How these revenues are used to serve the interests of all Iraqis will be important. Given that on World Bank figures a quarter of the population lives on less than $2.2 a day and 18% - most under 25 – are unemployed, and given that female participation in the labour force, at 17%, is low and the State remains the major employer (with 43% of the labour force), the scope for development is vast.

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