UI & SKL International: Iraqis Striving for Change

In October 2021, two years after the latest outburst of youth-driven protests started in Iraq, parliamentary elections were held with a remarkably low turnout. A new government is yet to be formed while Iraq’s core problems remain unresolved. In which direction is Iraq heading, and what can the international community do to support positive change?

Iraq has one of the world’s youngest populations. Roughly 800,000 young Iraqis enter the workforce every year, only to find that job opportunities are few and far between. In October 2019, the non-sectarian Tishreen protest movement brought the core issues to the fore: uninhibited corruption within the ruling elite while the majority of the population lives in poverty; lack of rule of law; foreign meddling and the activities of state-financed, autonomous militias who are not accountable to anybody. The protesters were met with lethal force.

The MENA analyst Bitte Hammargren has been commissioned by SKL International to research and write a series of reports on the current state of affairs in Iraq. The recently published report, Iraqis striving for change: ”We want a homeland”, builds on fieldwork conducted in November 2021. She has conducted interviews with Iraqis in various positions in Baghdad and south Iraq, including young protesters from the Tishreen movement, leading clerics in Iraq’s centre for Shiism in Najaf, female professionals in a conservative environment and many others.

SKL International, an affiliate of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, in cooperation with the Swedish Institute for International Affairs (UI) invite you to a webinar discussing the popular demands for change in Iraq and the structural barriers and resistance hindering it.

Bitte Hammargren, Turkey & MENA analyst, journalist and writer; Senior Associate Fellow at UI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme
Lahib Higel, Senior Iraq Analyst at the International Crisis Group, based in Baghdad
Gunnar Andersson, Senior expert, Local Governance in Iraq project, SKL International

The webinar is moderated by Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of Programme at the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

Use this link to register for the event

SIPRI Policy Brief on the economy and public service provision in Iraq

Fixing the Economy and Public Service Provision in Iraq

Author: Shivan Fazil (SIPRI)
December, 2021

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute


Iraq’s ethnosectarian power-sharing system, with its weak institutions and low levels of accountability, has penetrated the economy and hindered the performance of the state and provision of basic services. Lack of access to economic opportunities and quality public services has been a recurring grievance during the protests in Iraq. The state’s failure to fulfil the protestors’ demands is a widely seen as a symptom of its weakness, which has resulted in calls from protestors for the complete overhaul of the political system. This, however, is unlikely in the short term.

Continue reading “SIPRI Policy Brief on the economy and public service provision in Iraq”

The Ramifications of Covid-19 on Public Health

Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are currently imposing new restrictions in response to the recent Covid-19 variant Omicron. Since the outbreak in 2020, it has become evident that there are major differences in how states have managed the pandemic.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the varying levels of state capacity and ability to provide health care services to their citizens. Access to vaccines has been relatively straightforward in wealthy Gulf countries, while access and vaccination rates are extremely low in countries such as Syria, Algeria, Yemen and Iraq. The pandemic has also exacerbated existing socioeconomic inequalities within countries. This is likely to have extensive effects on public health as well as trust in the government’s ability to manage future public health crises.

What are the long-term effects of the pandemic on public health, and how well prepared are these states for future public health challenges?

Intissar Fakir, Senior fellow and director of Middle East Institute’s North Africa and the Sahel program
Hanan F. Abdul Rahim, Associate Professor in Public Health and Dean of the College of Health Science, Qatar University
Vira Ameli, Doctoral Student at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford

Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI)

Use this link to register for the event

GLD Policy Roundtable: Morocco

The Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) is hosting a policy roundtable on Morocco.

Morocco has one of the most advanced local governance systems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite its monarchical structure, the regime has held local elections since the 1960s and local councils play an important role in providing services and addressing the everyday needs of Moroccan citizens throughout the state. On September 8, 2021, Moroccans elected about 30,600 local council seats and 678 regional council seats.

Join us for our upcoming policy roundtable on October 25th, where we have invited experts to discuss the results of the most recent elections, implications for local governance, and the impact of autocratic rule on shaping policy outcomes at the subnational level.

  • Saloua Zerhouni, professor of political science at Mohammed V University in Rabat
  • Romain Ferrali, Assistant Professor, Aix Marseille School of Economics
  • Francesco Colin, Ph.D. researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Marwa Shalaby (Moderator), assistant professor in the departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Use this link to go to the event page and register