By James Fox, a British journalist and writer at RT. He has written a doctoral thesis on local content in resource economies and has contributed to academic work on global supply chains.
Two years ago, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to demand an end to corruption, misgovernance and a sectarian political system, imposed by the United States after the fall of Saddam Hussein, that allows for the systematic plundering of the state and its national resources.
The system, known as ‘muhasasa,’ was developed by Saddam’s opposition in exile in anticipation of a post-Ba’athist Iraq and was adopted by the conquering US forces who believed balancing sectarian demands would allow for the creation of a stable political settlement.
But while muhasasa was devised to divvy up political positions and power on the basis of sectarian or ethnic quotas, it has become a cypher for politically sanctioned corruption and the continued enrichment of elites and their followers.
Ministries and state bodies are also apportioned according to factional lines, further enhancing the capacity for nepotism. As such, muhasasa has contributed to the creation of a bloated civil service, whose salaries account for around a quarter of the country’s GDP, as ministries and key administrative bodies trade jobs and contracts for support.
The state currently pays the salaries or pensions of some 11 million people (Iraq has a total population of 40 million), including half-a-million so-called ‘ghost workers’ who don’t work anywhere but still receive a salary. Reports from 2020 suggested that the government was paying around 400% more in salaries than it had been 15 years ago.
Muhasasa was meant to prevent a single faction or ethnic group oppressing others in the way that Saddam had done, but Washington’s masterplan instead engendered a kind of political deadlock, whereby the divided parliament and its precariously positioned prime ministers struggled to deliver, even when they tried. As a result, it was no surprise mass protests erupted in 2019; the system wasn’t delivering.
In May 2020, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power in the wake of the protests (also known as the Tishreen or October movement) which prompted the collapse of the previous government. But while the former journalist and intelligence chief seemingly heard the call for an early ballot, he won’t be presiding over wholescale political and electoral reform.
Al-Kadhimi has brought the 2022 election forward to this Sunday and has overseen some. Brinkwire Summary News. For more information, search on the internet.