By Anthony H. Cordesman
Iraq is on the edge of civil war, and its election does not seem to offer any clear prospect of producing national unity or an effective leader. As a result, there is natural focus on Iraq’s growing violence and political divisions, but this is only part of the story. The Burke Chair has already addressed these issue in depth in a book length report called Iraq in Crisis which is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/Iraq%20Book_21_April_2014%20(reduced%20size).pdf.
Violence and politics, however, are only part of Iraq’s story. Anyone seeking to understand the outcome of the Iraqi election and the role Prime Minister Maliki has played to date also needs to understand the trends in governance and economics, and just how serious the other challenges Iraq faces really are.
The Burke Chair has developed a summary report on these challenges using date from the World Bank, the United Nations, and Transparency International. This report is called Hitting Bottom: The Maliki Scorecard in Iraq, and it is also now available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/140501_Iraq_Hitting_Bottom_Revised.pdf.
The report is in graphic and tabular form, and largely speaks for itself. There are, however, several key points that emerge from its contents:
o In spite of its oil wealth, Iraq has failed to develop and is a poor nation with the lowest per capita in come of any state in the Gulf except Yemen. (p. 4)
o The World Bank ranks Iraq as the most corrupt nation in the region except for Yemen and Libya. (p. 5)
o Transparency International ranks Iraq as the most corrupt state in the region except for Libya and as the 171st worst country in the world out of 177 countries surveyed. (p. 6)
o Transparency International ranks Iraq as the least transparent government in in the region. (p. 7)
o The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the least effective governments in the world, and as having made no real progress from 2008-2012 – in spite of the end of the first round of civil conflict. (p. 8)
o The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the least politically stable and most violent countries in the world, and as worse off under Maliki than under Saddam Hussein. (p. 8).
o The World Bank shows only marginal progress in fighting corruption from 2008-2012. (p. 9)
o The World Bank puts Iraq and the near bottom of nations in terms of the rule of law, and rates its performance under Maliki as worse than under Saddam Hussein. (p. 9)
o The World Bank does indicate some improvement in regulatory quality and voice and accountability under Maliki, although Iraq’s performance remains very poor. (p. 10)
o The UN ranks Iraq as 131st in the world in human development indicators, and as the worst country in the region except for Yemen in spite of Iraq’s oil income. (pp. 11-13) Education has only made marginal improvement under Maliki, as have life expectancy and Iraq’s overall Human Development Index GNI per capita has, however, improved since 2005 – largely because of higher oil export earnings. (pp. 14-15) Iraq lags far behind countries like Morocco, and its performance has been no better than Syria in recent years – in spite of Syria’s full-scale civil war. (p. 16)
o The Maliki government’s failures are compound by a nation under extreme demographic pressure. (p.17)
o In spite of claims of modernization and reform, the World Bank rates Iraq has having a very poor ranking terms of the overall ease of doing business. (p. 17) It has particularly poor ratings for starting a business, getting credit, enforcing contracts, and protecting investors. (p. 18).
o Iraq has made little or no progress since 2005 in the areas the World Bank scores for doing business under Maliki. (p. 19)
o UN, BBC, and Iraqi Body estimate warn that Iraq’s levels of violence and civilian casualties may bereturning to the state of civil wart that existed during (p. 21)
o The new State Department Country Report on Terrorism ranks Iraq worst of the ten top countries in terrorist incidents. (pp. 22-23)
o The State Department Country Report on Human Rights revised as of 4/1/14 indicate the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces have systematically violated human rights. (pp. 24-25) The full report lists numerous abuses by the government, security services, police, and justice system – compounding the damage done by terrorism and violent ethnic and sectarian factions. (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/220565.pdf)
o The British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office expressed similar concern in its update of its human rights report on March 31, 2014. (pp. 26-27)
By Anthony H. Cordesman