Around six out of ten Iraqis with employment are found in the service sector. Others are distributed roughly equally between agriculture and industry. Unemployment was set at just over 8 percent in 2018, but this is assumed to be an underestimate. The proportion is twice as high among young people.
Like most countries in the Middle East, Iraq has a low proportion of women in the labor market: not quite 18 percent. The figure has risen slowly in recent decades. Unemployment is also higher among women looking for work than men. Many Iraqis believe that women should not work outside the home and refer to culture and religion to explain this. Such attitudes are generally stronger in conservative rural areas.
- According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, IRQ stands for the country of Iraq in geography.
Many Iraqis support themselves outside the regular labor market with the help of black jobs and smuggling.
Four out of ten Iraqis are employed in the public sector. The labor market for civil servants in Iraq largely collapsed following the US-led invasion in 2003. Conditions were often chaotic with closed schools, looting of hospitals and public buildings, and violence in the streets. Many authorities were also badly affected by the purges of members of the Baath Party, as membership had often been a prerequisite for advancing to executive positions. For the first time after the invasion, the United States made financial contributions to persuade police and other government officials with important social functions to return to work. Although the public sector had been severely overstaffed before 2003, recruitment began in 2005, and the number of employees doubled in 2009.
Wages are the largest item of expenditure in the state budget. The Treasury’s payments to the security forces in Kurdish autonomy have put the cooperation between Baghdad and the Kurdish leaders to the test, and also been used as a means of pressure in negotiations.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Iraq, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, several different unions have been formed, some of them affiliated with political groups. A law from 1987 banned the formation of trade unions in the large state sector. In 2010, for example, the Ministry of Electricity issued an order to have all union offices in the electricity sector closed and called on the police to arrest the union activists who protested, citing anti-terrorism laws. In 2015, a new labor law was passed that replaced the prohibition laws from 1987.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
7.9 percent (2019)
16.5 percent (2019)
Trump on an unexpected visit
President Trump makes an unannounced visit to the US forces in Iraq. It is after two years as president his first visit to US foreign forces. Trump said during the visit that the United States “can no longer be a world police force”. Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi must have been informed just two hours before the visit for security reasons. He is reported to be in another part of Iraq and the two will not meet.
Still blank on key records
A further three ministers are approved by Parliament. Five posts are still vacant in the government of Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi trying to form on the basis of the May election results. Abd al-Mahdi has nominated people with support for Iranian-backed parties to the important Interior and Defense Ministry jobs, which may be difficult to digest proposals for other groups that do not want the regime in the neighboring country to have a major influence on government policy (see October 2 and October 24).
Famous Mosul Mosque is rebuilt
The foundation stone is laid for the reconstruction of al-Nurim Mosque in Mosul, which was destroyed in connection with the IS ravages in the city. From the mosque, which was known for its leaning minaret, IS proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. When the movement was expelled in 2017, the shrine exploded. The UAE has pledged $ 50 million for the reconstruction, which is expected to take five years.
Rainy weather exacerbates war devastation
Rainfall, especially in the provinces of Saladin and Nineveh in the north, has left tens of thousands of residents in distress. At least 21 deaths have been confirmed. In Mosul, pontoon bridges flood over Tigris connecting the city’s war-torn halves since permanent bridges were destroyed in air strikes when IS was expelled from the city. The government forms a crisis group to coordinate the efforts of local authorities and security forces.
Protest leader murdered in Basra
In Basra, Wisam al-Gharawi, regime critic and Shiite leader, was buried, who was shot dead outside his home four days earlier. During the summer he stood at the head of demonstrations against corruption and lack of water and electricity supply. He also claimed that a group of religious leaders were in principle ready to justify armed opposition to the government. No one has committed the murder.
Negotiations on IS widows and IS children
21 Russian women have been sentenced to life sentences after coming to Iraq with IS sympathizers, mainly from Chechnya. Negotiations are in progress on about 60 children to be brought to Russia. So far, about a hundred people – women and children – have been able to travel within the framework of a program run by Ramzan Kadyrov, hardline leader in Chechnya. Kadyrov has support in Moscow, but Chechen activists claim that the Russian security service FSB is countering homecoming and that there are about 2,000 Russian citizens with IS ties in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq is exempt from sanctions
Iraq has been cleared by the US to buy electricity from Iran despite US sanctions against the regime in Tehran. Power supply problems during the year have led to major demonstrations and unrest, especially in southern Iraq. Iraq buys both electricity and natural gas for gas-fired power plants from Iran. Assessors believe the US is trying to persuade Iraq to reduce its dependence on trade with neighboring countries.
UN maps mass graves following IS terror
The Islamic State (IS) bears responsibility for more than 200 mass graves where about 12,000 people can be buried, UN representatives say. The graves are located in northern and western Iraq, where IS had widespread dominance in 2014–2017, and there may be more. The UN calls on the Iraqi government to ensure that the victims are identified and treated with dignity. So far, 28 mass graves have been opened and the remains of more than 1,250 people have been taken care of.
IS offensive – and counter-offensive
Iraq sends troops to the Syrian border to stop the Islamic State (IS), which a few days earlier has captured Baghuz in eastern Syria and recovered weapons and vehicles. IS is believed to want to transfer its remaining forces to western Iraq, where there are still IS mounts. Behind the new attacks, intentions are also being made to try to enter energy plants in Iraq. When IS subdued large parts of Syria and northern Iraq, the movement generated revenue by selling oil. In the counter-offensive of the Iraqi government forces, militia participating is competing for Iran’s interests – including keeping Iraq-Syria roads open to send Iranian support to the Assad regime in Syria.
Yazidis receive French support
About 100 Yazid women who have been attacked by IS warriors will be welcomed in France, President Macron announced after a meeting with Nobel laureate Nadia Murad. Many of the women need care. France will also support Murad’s initiative to rebuild health care and schools in the Yazidis’ home region of Sinjar in northern Iraq.
Government dares to move out of the “green zone”
The new, yet incomplete government is assembled for its first meeting in a symbolic place: the old parliament in Baghdad, which was used during Saddam Hussein’s time when the will of the people was not taken seriously. The strong symbolism is also about the government meeting taking place outside the fortified “green zone” in Baghdad, where the political leadership has remained in reasonable security since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam 15 years earlier.
New government begins to take shape
A new government is underway, over five months after the parliamentary elections. 14 ministers get the go-ahead in parliament; 220 out of 329 members voted yes. The Minister of Oil will be Thamir Abbas Ghadban, who has had the assignment before, and a respected energy researcher will be responsible for the crippling electricity supply that has led to protest waves during the year. Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi still has important items to fill, such as those of the defense and home ministers. Eight ministerial posts remain vacant for months, as the parties cannot agree. Abd al-Mahdi himself is accepted by both the United States and Iran. It is described as necessary because large parties in Iraq are allied with either one or the other great power.
Old power party won Kurdish election
The results of the Kurdish autonomy regional elections, held on September 30, are announced. KDP is moving forward, from 38 to 45 of the 111 seats compared to the 2013 elections. This is despite the fact that a referendum on independence that KDP’s strong man Massoud Barzani drove through 2017 failed. The other major party, PUK, is also moving forward from 18 to 21 seats. The opposition party Gorran lost half of its seats in the regional parliament and now has 12. Newly formed The new generation got 8 seats. 11 places are dedicated to minorities (Turkmen, Christian and Armenian). The remaining 14 went to small parties, among them Islamists. The average turnout was 57 percent. Who becomes regional president is not decided. Barzani resigned after the failure of the referendum.
Great interest in ministerial jobs
A total of 36,006 applications have been received since Adil Abd al-Mahdi, nominated as head of government, announced via the internet after new ministers. 97 percent describe themselves as politically independent, 15 percent are women and the applicants come from all Iraq’s provinces, Abd al-Mahdi wrote on Facebook when the application period expired. 9,317 people have submitted complete applications and five of them are selected.
Government jobs are advertised
Adil Abd al-Mahdi, nominated for the post of prime minister, has begun his pursuit of ministers. Through Facebook, he invites candidates “with expert knowledge, specialization and practical experience” to register interest in a special recruitment site. Outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also tried to associate experts as ministers, but met opposition from political parties.
Nobel Peace Prize to former IS prisoner
Yazidian Nadia Murad of Sinjar in Northern Iraq receives the Nobel Peace Prize 2018. After surviving rape and torture in the hands of IS warriors, she has appeared in the role of activist against rape as a weapon of conflict. She shares the award with gynecologist Denis Mukwege from Congo-Kinshasa, who at her hospital in Bukavu, near the border with Rwanda, has treated thousands of women who have been subjected to sexual violence during a protracted civil war.
The president appointed, proposes government leaders
The presidential post in Iraq is important to a Kurd, and for the first time, the major Kurdish parties KDP and PUK are competing for whom to appoint. In the past, they have stated that the PUK held the federal presidential post, while the KDP led the Kurdistan autonomy. The Baghdad Parliament now, after being forced to postpone its vote, chooses Barham Salih, which belongs to the PUK. He is described as politically moderate and has been a minister, among other things, in the transitional government appointed after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Shortly after his appointment, Salih proposes former oil minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi as new prime minister. Abd al-Mahdi is a Shi’ite Muslim, with a French doctorate in economics, and was Vice President 2005–2011.
Three out of five votes in Kurdistan
Regional elections are conducted in Kurdish autonomy in the north. The turnout in the three provinces where just over 3.1 million voters have voting rights is 53-61 percent. Just a new grouping line up: The new generation, which channels dissatisfaction with the traditional elites.
Murder scare against women is feared
Tara Fares, a 22-year-old model with 2.7 million followers on fashion-oriented accounts on social media, gets shot in Baghdad. The women’s rights organization Amal is worried by what appears to be a wave of assassinations against women in prominent roles. Two days earlier, Suad al-Ali, a businesswoman and activist, was murdered in Basra. In August, two women, both owners of beauty clinics, were found dead in their homes in Baghdad without clear cause of death.
German police chief kidnapped murder suspect
A criminal investigation is underway against Germany’s national police chief Dieter Romann, after he personally retrieved a murder suspect in Iraq from Kurdistan. The Iraqi, who has been seeking asylum in Germany, has admitted the murder of a 14-year-old girl and is also suspected of raping an 11-year-old. He was arrested in northern Iraq in June by Kurdish forces, who handed him over to Romann at Erbil’s airport. No extradition request had then been made to the Baghdad government.
Baghdad University on the world rankings
Baghdad University, Iraq’s largest, is for the first time in the list when Times Higher Education ranks universities in the world. The university, which according to the British BBC has previously appeared on other ranking lists, is particularly successful in establishing international collaborations, the assessors believe. Placement in the range of 800-1,000 among the best universities may sound modest, but few universities have, as Baghdad found, in the midst of a war situation for years.
The daddy part is reunited
Despite the electoral victory in May, Muqtada al-Sadr’s negotiating position in the ongoing government formation is undermined by the fact that the two phalangas from the Dawap party are reunited so as not to risk being placed outside the government. Haider al-Abadis The Seger Alliance with 42 seats in Parliament and Nuri al-Maliki’s Rule of Law by 25 will together be larger than Sadr’s parliamentary group. But grassroots protests in southern Iraq against poor community service make it likely that Abadi still cannot hold the post of head of government – and for his part, Sadr may threaten to choose the position of opposition leader.
Parliament receives Proiran Speaker
Parliament elects Muhammad al-Halbusi as President. In Iraq’s parliament, the president must be Sunni Muslim Arab and Halbusi has been governor of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, but the Iran-friendly Shia group Fatah (Conquest) has supported his candidacy. First Vice-President will be Hassan Karim, nominated by the election winner Muqtada al-Sadr. Hisham al-Hashemi, political commentator, sees both appointments as a success for lobbying from Iran. According to the constitution, a Shiite prime minister and a Kurdish president are now to be united. The distribution of power is intended to reduce the risk of a return to dictatorship. During Saddam Hussein’s time, until 2003, Sunnis benefited at the expense of Shiites and Kurds.
The Prime Minister promises water investments
After visiting Basra, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces efforts to improve the supply of fresh water in the area, including pumping stations and purification. He does not specify a timetable or the amount to be invested.
Kurdish electoral movement in the north
The campaigns will start in Kurdistan for elections to the regional government of autonomy on September 30. More than 670 candidates from 29 political groups compete for 111 seats. Some of the sites are dedicated to ethnic or religious minorities, including Turkmen and Christians. In the sitting parliament, the traditional rivals KDP and PUK have 38 and 18 respectively 18, while the opposition movement Goran (“Change”) has 24. The election is not expected to draw on the political map, however, to highlight dividing lines after the failed attempt to achieve independence made in 2017.
Iran accuses Kurds in Iraq of terror
Iranian government forces strike against Kurdish party KDPI headquarters in Koy Sanjaq in northern Iraq. At least 15 fatalities are reported. Iran demands the release of Kurdish designated terrorists by the Iraqi federal government and by the Kurdish autonomy in the north. Iran’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDPI, sometimes PDKI), which Iran accuses of carrying out cross-border attacks, is an old separatist group banned after the Islamic revolution in Iran.
Obituary at Basra protests
In Basra, at least seven people have died in two days when security forces intervened in violent protests. As in the summer, the demonstrations are aimed at corruption and poor community service, mainly a lack of clean water and recurrent electricity cuts. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says security forces have been ordered to intervene against vandals but not to shoot protesters. The protests continue and the two largest groups in Parliament urge Abadi to resign, suggesting that, despite negotiations since the May elections, he may not be able to lead the next government.
Refugees return home
Nearly four million Iraqis who have fled as a result of fighting against the Islamic State (IS) have returned home, according to the UN organization IOM. Altogether, six million – 15 percent of Iraq’s population – fled during the years around 2014, when IS-jihadists took control of parts of the country. It is mainly to the Mosul region and the other province of Nineveh people have been able to return since IS was pushed back (see July 9, 2017 and December 9, 2017). For the almost two million who are still living as internal refugees, the situation remains worrying.
Majority settlement clear between parties
Election winner Muqtada al-Sadr and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have succeeded in gathering support from 16 political groups with representation in Parliament, a total of 177 of the 329 seats. The agreement is concluded only hours before the newly elected parliament is to be assembled. One consequence could be that Abadi continues as prime minister, despite his party only being third in the election. Parliament has a month to elect a president, who will then give someone the job of forming government.
Messages are believed to come from the IS leader
The Islamic State announces a sound recording in which someone who is said to be the leader of the terrorist group urges their followers to continue fighting. Nothing confirms that it really is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who speaks, but experts believe that the voice sounds like his. The speaker mentions current events, including an American pastor who keeps Turkey imprisoned. Several times since IS was driven away from cities and important strongholds in Syria and Iraq, it has been alleged that the leader was killed, but neither has been able to occupy it. UN Reporters claim in August 2018 that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 IS fighters in the Syria-Iraq border regions.
Party cooperation without Iran-backed alliance
Electoral candidate Muqtada al-Sadr, outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Ammar al-Hakim who leads the Shiite Wisdom Movement and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announce that they have formed what will be the largest party cooperation in the newly elected parliament. They can thus propose candidates for key positions: Prime Minister, President and President. But they need the support of more parties to be able to form government and win parliamentary votes. An important consequence of the cooperation between the four blocs is that the most Iran-friendly party formation Fatah is left outside.
Iranian sanctions lower Iraq’s travel industry
US tightened sanctions against Iran hit hard on pilgrimage to the Shi’ite Muslim shrines in Najaf 15 miles south of Baghdad. Iranians usually make up 85 percent of visitors, according to the local hotel industry. Now, many are canceling their trips, despite hotel discounts, as Iran’s currency declines in value. Air travel between Najaf and Iran, normally 35 per day, is down to twelve per day.
Votes recalculated, election results are fixed
Almost three months after the parliamentary elections, a manual recalculation of votes in some constituencies has been completed. The overall result stands: Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s nationalallallians becomes the largest with 54 out of 329 seats. The recalculation gave the election’s second, Proiranic Conquest, another mandate, 48. During the summer, it was reported that Sadr’s block for government formation has agreements with Conquest, with the Shiite Wisdom Movement (19 seats) and Iyad Allawi’s Sunnis list (21 seats).
Iraqis are drowning in the Mediterranean
9th of August
Seven Iraqi children and two adults drown when a migrant boat drops off the resort of Ku ş adası on the west coast of Turkey, near the island of Samos. Four people survive. Anatolia news agency told a man who lost his wife and three children that the smugglers did not want to give them life jackets. Human trafficking has decreased but has not stopped since the EU and Turkey signed an agreement in 2016, which says that Turkey is returning migrants who reach Greek islands in exchange for, among other things, EU financial support. In the spring of 2018, the Iraqi government stated that nearly 30,000 Iraqi refugees had returned from Turkey and Syria since mid-2017, partly as a result of the security situation being improved in places where IS was driven away.
Roadblocks are becoming fewer in Baghdad
Baghdad is gradually being freed from concrete roadblocks and traffic has started to flow better. The barriers, sometimes by entire districts, began when the contradictions between Shia and Sunni militants intensified over ten years ago and culminated with the Islamic State’s campaign of violence. Since last year, when the government declared victory over IS, over 300 roadblocks have been dismantled and thousands of streets and alleys opened, according to General Saad Maan, spokesman for Baghdad’s security command.
Iraq joins sanctions on Iran
Iraq has fallen into a fissure between its strategic partner USA and neighboring Iran as a result of tightening US sanctions on Iran. Iraq will reluctantly respect the sanctions, but the memory is fresh in Iraq of twelve years of embargo following Saddam Hussein’s Kuwait invasion in 1990, says Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Iraq is the country that imports the second most goods from Iran, alongside the oil and gas trade. In addition, electricity is imported. The fact that Iranian companies have closed the deliveries due to missing payments has contributed to popular protests in Basra.
Drought produces dramatic effects
Severe drought has caused the area cultivated to be halved this year compared to last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture for AFP. Irrigation prohibitions apply to crops that need a lot of water. Following a controversial decision in June, rice, maize and some other crops may not be grown. In normal cases, 100,000 tonnes of rice are produced each year. Livestock herds in southern Iraq have shrunk by 30 percent due to lack of pasture and feed; many animals are slaughtered. The management of river water also creates tension with neighboring countries when much water is diverted from the rivers before they reach Iraq.
Ministers are fired and contracts are investigated
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi makes the protesters in Basra and other cities at will: Qasim al-Fahdawi gets fired from the job as minister responsible for electricity supply. According to reports to the AFP news agency, Abadi has also ordered a review of “ghost contracts”, fake contracts with the public sector, which are concluded with a view to getting money from the Treasury.
Eleven dead in connection with protests
In connection with the last two weeks of protests in southern and central Iraq, eleven protesters are estimated to have lost their lives. Demonstrations started in protest against corruption and lack of community services. They were escalated when security men opened fire on protesters in the city of Basra on July 8 with a death toll. Security forces have been deployed around Baghdad and in many places government buildings and party headquarters have been set on fire.
Voice conversion is in progress
In Kirkuk, the votes from the parliamentary elections have begun to be recalculated by hand. The recalculation begins in Kirkuk because the most complaints were there. Prior to the recalculation, military reinforcements were deployed. On July 1, 19 people were injured in a suicide attack against a magazine in which the ballot boxes were stored.
The trauma of IS victims is noticed
Gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who at his hospital in Congo-Kinshasa treats women who have been subjected to systematic violence in war, visits the Yazid minority in northern Iraq to share experiences from eastern Congo. He meets the Yazidi’s spiritual leader Khurto Hajji Ismail, who has urged his cousins to treat women mildly subjected to rape and other abuses by IS warriors. Mukwege has been invited by Yazda, a non-profit organization formed in 2014 to support IS victims.
Order: Implement the death penalty for IS
Eight people held hostage by the Islamic State (IS) have been found murdered north of Baghdad. After the discovery, Haider al-Abadi, outgoing prime minister, orders that the death sentence imposed for imprisoned IS members be executed in all cases where the convicted have exhausted their opportunities to appeal. Three days after his order, it is announced that 13 people were sentenced to death. According to The Guardian, 300 IS members, including 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to death in Iraq. Most belong to former Soviet republics or to Turkey.
Limited conversion of votes
The counting of votes from the parliamentary elections in May is to be limited, announces the panel of judges appointed by Iraq’s highest court to replace the country’s election commission. HD has, in accordance with Parliament’s wishes, decided that votes should be recalculated manually – but not all the eleven million votes cast. Only in voting districts where candidates have lodged complaints or where there are official reports of suspected cheating should the votes be recalculated.
al-Sadr expands its alliance
Shi’a leader Muqtada al-Sadr strengthens his position in parliament ahead of government formation by joining three other groups: Shi’a Muslim Ammar al-Hakim’s list, secular outgoing Vice President Iyad Allawi’s list, mostly comprised of Sunni Muslims, and the Iran-friendly bloc led by Hadi al -Amiri. However, al-Sadr has not yet assembled a majority of Parliament’s 329 members behind him.
Explosion in the concealment
Following an explosion in the Baghdad district of Sadrstad, at least 17 people have been killed and 80 injured. According to authorities, it is an armistice that exploded at a mosque. The mosque is used by supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of a party alliance that has been successful in the parliamentary elections. The reason why the ammunition exploded, and what movement it actually belonged to, is investigated.
Parliament wants to recast votes
Following allegations of electoral fraud, the outgoing Parliament votes for all votes cast in the May 12 parliamentary elections to be recalculated by hand. The Election Commission should also be replaced. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi states that it is above all the electronic voting that may have been handled incorrectly. The Election Commission, which according to the decision is to be replaced by a judge, does not want to find itself in the decision and announces its intention to appeal.
Iran is trying to block the Sadr government
The official election results confirm that Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance will be the largest in parliament with 54 of the 329 seats. Even before the official announcement, according to AFP, Iran has pulled the threads to make his negotiations on government cooperation with other parties and alliances difficult; Qasem Soleimani, general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has raised more Iran-friendly politicians in Baghdad.
Electoral offices in Kirkuk besieged
Armed men occupy several polling stations in Kirkuk, say Iraq’s electoral authority four days after the parliamentary elections without identifying who is behind the campaign. According to Reuters, the election commission’s chairman Riyad al-Badran says that staff are being held hostage and that perpetrators are trying to push for a change in the election results. Early in the vote, the Kurdish party led PUK, but both Turkmen and Arabs questioned the result. Kirkuk has an ethnically mixed population and claims to control the oil city exist from several directions.
Sadrallians on their way to winning the election
Muqtada al-Sadr’s Valallians – a collaboration between Sadr’s Shiaparti Istiqama and six other mostly secularParties, including Communists – have victory weather. When almost all the votes in the parliamentary elections are counted, their alliance Sa’irun (roughly “On March”) surprisingly leads before Hadi al-Amiris alliance Fatah (Conquest), which gathers political groups related to the Shiite-led militia al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Public mobilization). The victory alliance, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s list, just seems to be third. Muqtada al-Sadr has not personally run for office and cannot therefore become prime minister. Negotiations on what the next government should look like can be lengthy. Amiri’s alliance is perceived as the most Iran-friendly, but may be justified because Sadr is not only known as US-critical but also marks independence from Tehran.
Voter voting characterizes parliamentary elections
Only 44.5 percent of voters vote in the first parliamentary elections since IS was defeated. The result is uncertain in several respects. This applies, among other things, to how the Kurds vote in light of the fact that the regional referendum on independence held in autumn 2017 became a setback for Kurdish leaders. According to media on the spot, security has improved throughout Iraq – from a sky-high level of violence – but outside Kirkuk, at least three people are killed on election day in an attack near a polling station.
Power measurement between shialists in the choice
Two days before the parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his Seger Alliance are challenged, above all, by other Shia groups. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a bitter rival even though he and Abadi have a background in the same party, Dawa. Maliki opposes the fact that IS could subjugate large areas under his rule. Former Transport Minister Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badrmilis and with close ties to the powerful Revolutionary Guard in neighboring Iran, on the other hand, has some of the hero status after the fighting when IS was defeated. No party bloc is believed to have the chance to get its own majority in parliament.
Refugees forgotten in the election movement
About 285,000 of about two million internal refugees are registered as voters before Election Day. Several months after the government declared victory over IS, many of the refugees still live in desert camps. There are 166 polling stations in 70 camps for internal refugees, but few politicians campaigning in the camps. The refugees’ confidence in the candidates is also limited, AFP reports.
Ayatolla wants to see a new generation of politicians
More than 24 million voters have registered to vote in the May 12 parliamentary elections. Of about 7,000 candidates, one fifth have not been parliamentarians in the past, and the new names now receive public encouragement from Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the religious leader who is believed to have the most followers. At Friday prayers in the city of Karbala, a representative of Sistani urges his countrymen to look for new representatives instead of electing politicians who have proven corrupt.
Deadly violence before the election
One civilian is killed and eleven people injured by a car bomb in the disputed town of Kirkuk. The attack is believed to be linked to the electoral movement before May 12: it is aimed at a politician who is a candidate for the Turkmen Front. A week earlier, four people lost their lives in a suicide bombing carried out by IS against a political party in the Anbar province.
Start on the electoral movement
The election campaigns will officially begin before Election Day on May 12, when voters will elect 329 MPs and members of Iraq’s provincial assemblies.
Women condemned to death as IS members
A Baghdad court sentenced six Turkish women to death and one seventh to life imprisonment for membership in IS, AFP reports. A source in the judiciary states that all the women had small children with them in court. The women surrendered to Kurdish peshmerga soldiers after moving from Tal Afar during the Iraqi and Kurdish forces’ fighting against IS last year.
Relief for Iraqi Kurdistan
The Iraqi federal government states that wages are once again being paid to public servants in Kurdistan, including peshmerga soldiers. The payments were frozen in the autumn referendum on Kurdish independence, which was classified as illegal. The blockade against international flights to Kurdistan, when all planes were redirected to Baghdad, has also been claimed for a week. However, the central government continues to demand that the self-government transfer oil revenues to federal authorities and that an audit be conducted to determine the number of Kurdistan public servants.
30 years since the gas attack against Halabja
Several thousand black-clad Kurds gather to recognize that 30 years have passed since Saddam Hussein’s gas attack on the city of Halabja. About 5,000 Kurds are believed to have lost their lives in the attack, which according to expertise was carried out with mustard gas. During the 1980s, when the country was at war with Iran, Saddam conducted a ruthless campaign against those who supported the Iranian side. There were other Kurdish forces in the resistance camp. Twenty years after the attack, Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid was sentenced to death for ordering the attack on Halabja. He was hanged in 2010.
Alliance between opposing poles
11th of March
An unexpected alliance has been formed ahead of the May 12 elections. When six parties come together on a common list, Muqtada al-Sadr, Shi’a preacher and well-known leader of the dreaded Mahdi army, will campaign with Marxists who are basically advocating a secular state. A supporter of Sadr explains the common goals of the AFP news agency: reforms, better community services for citizens and stops for corruption.
Budget is adopted despite Kurdish boycott
Iraqi Parliament adopts a state budget for 2018. Kurdish members boycott voting because they consider Kurdish areas disadvantageous; the share of government spending that goes to Kurdistan is reduced from 17 to 12.6 percent. The budget text emphasizes that oil revenues from Kurdish autonomy must be transferred to federal authorities, appropriations to Kurdistan will decrease if this is not done. However, according to the President, the budget means that salary payments will be resumed to Kurdish civil servants. Wages have been frozen for six months, even to peshmerga soldiers. Audits should be done to determine how many people are entitled to salary.
Requirements on schedule for foreign forces
Iraq’s parliament demands in a resolution that the government draw up a timetable for when foreign troops leave Iraq. 74 countries have contributed to fighting the terrorist group IS since 2014, notes AFP. Since IS was expelled from the cities, the US-led alliance has pulled down on its forces.
Airblock is extended
The ban on international flights to the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq is being extended, confirms Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office. Airport staff say the ban has been extended by three months to the end of May. The federal government put an end to air traffic following the referendum when the Kurds voted for independence.
Limited promises for reconstruction
Schools, hospitals and infrastructure are in ruins in many places after three years of IS ravages and wars against the jihadist movement. The Iraqi government has estimated the cost of reconstruction to be $ 90 billion. At a donor meeting in Kuwait, aid worth $ 30 billion is promised from participating countries and organizations. The promises are the biggest from the UK, in the form of export credits, and Turkey, which puts loans and investments in view.
The state lists wanted
6th of February
Authorities have published two lists of wanted persons with suspected links to IS, al-Qaeda or executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi tops one list of what is believed to be his real name: Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. According to AFP, there are 72 names on the lists, including Saddam Hussein’s daughter Raghad, who is in Jordan.
Assassinated ex-minister handed over
Former Minister of Commerce Abd al-Falah al-Sudani is handed over to Iraq by Interpol. al-Sudani was a minister for a few years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. In 2012, he was sentenced to prison for his role in a corruption legacy of overpriced import goods, but he had left the country when released on bail. In February 2018, after returning to Iraq, he is sentenced again and the sentence is extended to 23 years in prison. Iraq has an amnesty law, but a prerequisite for escaping jail is to repay amounts that have been deceived by public funds, AFP writes.
Election date set
Parliament decides to hold elections on May 12, in accordance with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s wishes, reports Reuters. Both Kurds and Sunni Arabs would have preferred a later date to give internal refugees more time to return to their homes, but Iraq’s highest court has said no. Although Haider al-Abadi would not win the election, the prime minister’s post is important for a Shiite Muslim, and those who look to challenge him both have good relations with Iran.
Seeking collaboration via the web
The Sunni Alliance Ittilaf Wahdat al-Iraq, sometimes translated Iraqi unity, calls for the elections scheduled for May to be postponed with reference to the security situation. The alliance emphasizes that many voters are on the run in the country. At the same time, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is having trouble getting widespread support for the elections and is trying a new method for Iraq: he welcomes partners through the Internet. A candidate who collects 500 signatures may not have to go through the ethnically and religiously divided party system.
Suicide bombings in Baghdad
Two suicide bombers strike a square in central Baghdad. According to the BBC, sources say that at least 35 people have been killed and 90 injured. Several similar attacks have occurred in recent days.
Partial alliances meet in the elections
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces that he is running for re-election when Iraq goes to parliamentary elections in May. He will lead a new party alliance, called the Seger Alliance, which alternates that the Iraqi government forces have successfully defeated the jihadist IS. During al-Abadi’s time, the Iraqi state has also tightened its grip on certain areas in the north that the Kurds would like to control. The main counter-force in the election is believed to be the rule of law, the party bloc led by current Vice President Nuri al-Maliki.