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.

Panel
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 Paper: Governance in Iraq & Lebanon

Reform within the System: Governance in Iraq and Lebanon

Author: Amal Bourhrous, Meray Maddah, Shivan Fazil & Dylan O’Driscoll (SIPRI)

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Abstract

The 2019 protests in Iraq and Lebanon revealed a widespread dissatisfaction with political systems based on sectarian and ethnosectarian power-sharing, which many saw as being responsible for a host of governance failures. This has given rise to demands for a wholesale change of the political systems in both countries. However, the dismantlement of identity-based power-sharing systems is a remote prospect—they are deeply entrenched, and change would depend on action from the very political elites that benefit from them.

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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

Abstract

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.

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Youth Identity, Politics and Change in Contemporary Kurdistan

In recent weeks, images of migrants stranded at the Belarus-Poland border have gone viral. Among them are thousands of Kurds primarily youth from the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. What are the grievances of the youth that pushes them to make such a dangerous journey?

The contemporary history of the Kurdistan Region is marked by conflict and ethnic cleansing under the Ba’ath regime, significantly affecting the political situation of the Kurds in the Middle East. Most of the recent academic literature has focused on the macro politics of the Kurdish conundrum within Iraq and beyond. However, there is little scholarship about the Kurdish population and their socio-economic conditions in the wake of the US-invasion of Iraq in 2003, and almost none about the younger generation of Kurds who came of age during autonomous Kurdish rule.

This is a generation that, unlike their forebears, has no direct memory of the decades-long campaigns of repression, and has come of age in a region that underwent a significant transformation impacting and shaping the living experiences of the youth.

Based on the new book Youth Identity, Politics and Change in Contemporary Kurdistan, the contributors of the book will explore the social, economic and political challenges and opportunities for young Kurdish men and women.

Speakers
Shivan Fazil
, Researcher, Middle East and North Africa programme, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
Bahar Baser, Associate Professor, School of Government & International Affairs, Durham University
Lana Askari, Researcher, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Megan Connelly, Non-Resident Fellow, Institute of Regional and International Studies, American University of Iraq – Sulaimani

Moderator
Lucia Ardovini, Research Fellow, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

The webinar is hosted by The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) as part of the Swedish Middle East & North Africa Network’s (SWEMENA) webinar program.

 

Please follow this link to register

New book on youth identity in the Kurdistan Region

Youth Identity, Politics and Change in Contemporary Kurdistan

Editors:
Shivan Fazil (SIPRI) & Bahar Baser
September, 2021

Transnational Press London

Abstract

The contemporary history of the KRI is marked by conflict, war, and ethnic cleansing under Saddam Hussein and the tyranny of the Ba’ath regime, significantly affecting the political situation of the Kurds in the Middle East. Most of the recent academic literature has focused on the broader picture or, in other words, the macro politics of the Kurdish conundrum within Iraq and beyond. There is little scholarship about the Kurdish population and their socio-economic conditions after 2003, and almost none about the younger generation of Kurds who came of age during autonomous Kurdish rule.

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Iraqi Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding Across Local, National and Global Contexts

The Middle East Studies Forum hosts a webinar on
‘Iraqi Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding Across Local, National and Global Contexts’ presented by Dr. Yasmin Chilmeran (The Swedish Institute of International Affairs)

When: 28 October 2021, 8:00am (CEST)
Where:
Zoom
Register:
Follow this link to register

Abstract
In recent decades, and especially since the adoption of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, there is an increasing emphasis on women’s roles in peacebuilding and security processes. In Iraq, this has taken many forms since the US-led invasion in 2003. In this seminar, I will share early analysis of case studies of peacebuilding programmes from a larger post-doc project, which explores women’s participation in peacebuilding across different security and spatial contexts in Iraq.

This seminar will also delve into theoretical frameworks that highlight space, violence and hierarchy as a way to understand these programmes and women’s roles within them. This seminar also presents an opportunity to discuss developing post-PhD research projects and how to build on the momentum and findings we develop within our doctoral projects as Early Career Researcher.

Speaker:
Dr. Yasmin Chilmeran – a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs’ Middle East and North Africa Programme, and a research affiliate at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs.

Moderator:
Dr. Hadeel Abdelhameed – a research fellow at The German institute Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation Office Syria and Iraq (KAS), and the Iraqi-theatre principle investigator and archivist at the Australian Online Theatre and Drama Database AusStage.

Please follow this link to visit the event page

CMES Research Seminar: Exile, Identity, and Mobilization- New Dynamics in Post-2011 Arab Diasporas

Based on new empirical research conducted with Libyan, Iraqi, and Yemeni diasporas and drawing on social movement analysis, the seminar will explore new forms and directional flows of political remittances that are taking place, and the various factors that mediate the act of remitting politically.

Speaker

Dr. Sarah Ann Rennick, Deputy Director of the independent think tank Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) based in Paris.

When: 14 September, 13.15-14.30 (CEST)
Where: Virtual
Registration: Follow this link to register for the event