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IRAQ
Society

Cities in IRAQ

Baghdad

Society

State structure

Iraq has a government and a parliament. Then there is the party, and above all this there is the Revolutionary Command Council (RCR). Its chairman, Saddam Hussein, automatically sits as President of the Republic. The government is only the executor of what the RCR decides. Saddam Hussein also heads the party organisation. Elections to parliament are only open to candidates who support a set of principles laid down by the regime. The parliament cannot amend laws, only propose or reject them, which has never happened. Laws are either proposed by the RCR and then sent to the parliament for 'approval', or the laws are enacted by decree by the RCR, or by the president. The RCR has increasingly become a subordinate apparatus of the President: nobody sitting in it has an independent power base, all owe their position to Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the party and the RCR have lost importance in favour of the Presidential Office, in which selected confidants of Saddam Hussein have a seat.

Politics

Saddam Hussein has so far succeeded in suppressing opposition to his regime. Violent action is mainly directed against the Kurdish and Shi'ite groups in the country. Political parties other than the Ba'ath Party have been outlawed since 1978. The regime relies on family and friends of Saddam Hussein, who mainly come from the region around the town of Tikrit.

After the Desert Storm operation launched by the allies in January 1991, armed uprisings broke out in southern Iraq and in the Kurdish areas in the north. In March 1991 Basra and other southern cities were taken over by insurgents, including many Shi'ites but also disgruntled soldiers. However, troops loyal to Saddam Hussein soon regained control of the region. Military operations were directed against Shias living in the southern marshlands. Executions by military units were reported. There is also systematic destruction of the marshes in this area, with the natural water supply being cut off as a result of the construction of canals, dams etc., which is detrimental to the environment, agriculture, fishing and irrigation. Toxic substances have also been dumped in the marshes and hundreds of square kilometres of land have been burned by the military. In southern Iraq, part of the local population is deprived of food, medicine, drinking water and transport facilities in favour of the security forces and the military, among others.

In the north of the country Kurdish factions fought against the troops of the central Iraqi government. Iraqi troops managed to crush the uprising in March 1991. After initially succeeding in recapturing the Kurdish-held cities of Erbil, Dohuk and Zakho, they were eventually forced to retreat under international pressure. The Iraqi troops (and with them many officials) left most of the northern provinces in October 1991. Baghdad then announced an economic blockade of these areas.

The three northern provinces of the country formed two, de facto autonomous, areas inhabited mainly by Kurds. Parliamentary elections were held and a Kurdish Assembly was formed. However, this body no longer functions. From 1994 to 1998, different Kurdish factions, notably the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), competed for power. Surrounding countries such as Iran and Turkey and the regime in Baghdad played the various Kurdish groups off against each other, in constantly changing alliances with the various factions.

In 1998, the KDP and the PUK buried the hatchet and, under the auspices of the United States, concluded the so-called Washington Agreement to achieve greater mutual cooperation. However, to date the KDP and PUK have not been able to agree on how to implement the most important elements of this agreement (the establishment of a parliament, revenue-sharing).

In 1995, strong rumours about several coup attempts reached the outside world from Iraq. In 1996 there were strong indications of executions of persons accused of conspiring against the president. These were allegedly important national leaders and high-ranking military officers. Occasionally, reports of conspiracies against the regime in Baghdad reach the outside world. In March 1999, for example, some high-ranking army officers were executed for allegedly planning a coup. According to confirmed reports, an assassination attempt on President Saddam Hussein was foiled on 6 or 7 April 2000. Those responsible were reportedly executed.

For the current political situation see History section.

Economy

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, a UN sanctions regime is in place, which means that foreign companies can only maintain trade and investment relations with Iraq with the approval of a specialised UN committee. The economy of this potentially very rich country, which possesses valuable raw materials, fertile agricultural land and a workforce, has virtually collapsed since 1980. Iraq has slipped into the group of least-developed countries in the world; its people are very poor and dependent on emergency aid from donors. Out of concern for the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the UN Security Council accepted Resolution 986 in 1995, which allows for the controlled sale of oil for humanitarian purposes. This resolution resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Iraqi Government in 1996, setting out the modalities for its implementation. The revenue generated by this so-called "oil for food" resolution is used to meet humanitarian needs, to fund UN agencies operating in Iraq and to pay reparations to governments, companies and individuals for damages suffered as a result of the 1991 Gulf War.

After the entry into force of the humanitarian 'Oil for Food' programme, Iraq has continuously obstructed the implementation of this humanitarian programme. The Security Council, however, continues to make every effort to alleviate the needs of the Iraqi people. A good example of this is the adoption of Security Council Resolutions 1284 (17 December 1999), 1382 (30 November 2001) and 1409 (14 May 2002), which contain, inter alia , far-reaching proposals for improving the humanitarian situation. Resolution 1284 removed the ceiling on oil exports, and Resolution 1409 introduced a so-called 'Goods Review List', which speeds up and simplifies the approval procedures for exporting goods to Iraq. It also introduced the possibility of suspending sanctions on condition that Iraq cooperates with the weapons inspectors for a certain period of time. After the invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies, the economic situation changed dramatically.

Some economic facts about the past years are that the economic growth in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was 8.6%, 8.4% and 3.7% respectively. After that it fluctuated a lot in 2015 when the growth rate was more than 15% and in 2016 when the growth rate was negative -2.1%. GDP per capita was $16,700 in 2017. 23% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Sources

Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2022
Copyright: Team The World of Info