The Risk that Iraq might Fall Apart

From The Economist.

The Risk that Iraq might Fall Apart

In Sadr City, the vast shantytown east of Baghdad, cars still pack the roads, pilgrims still pray at shrines and people still gather in shops.

Many see covid-19 as either a Zionist hoax or a fast track to paradise, so they feel no obligation to comply with the government's order to stay inside.

The government itself seems unprepared. Iraq claims to have just 1,122 cases of the virus, but it is accused of minimising the number. Its public hospitals are not equipped to handle a big outbreak.

If the virus were Iraq's only problem, that would be enough. Alas, the country is nearly bankrupt-the result of a precipitous decline in the price of oil, which supplies more than 90% of government revenue.

Its politics are also a mess, with parties unable to agree on a new prime minister. Iraq's militias are running amok, while the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) regroup.

America and Iran, which helped Iraq muddle through past crises, are focused on fighting each other. Fears are growing that the state will collapse, says an Iraqi official.

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