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

UI Seminar: Socioeconomic Drivers of Protests in the MENA Region

The Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs invites you to a webinar analysing socio-economic drivers of protests in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region focusing on the contexts of Tunisia, Algeria and Lebanon.

Ten years after the Arab uprisings, that toppled dictators and briefly reshuffled the established status quo in several Arab countries, the region is still experiencing protests and popular demonstrations.

Long standing issues related to entrenched social inequalities, deep-seated corruption, recurring economic crises and the disintegration of the social contract are further weakening the already fragile state-society relationship in states across the region. With citizens’ growing mistrust in political institutions, protests is viewed by many as the main avenue to express discontent and demand structural changes.

With these dynamics in mind, this seminar focuses on a comparative analysis of socioeconomic drivers of protests in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Algeria, examining different repertoires of contention and state responses to popular demonstrations.

What socioeconomic grievances drive contemporary protest movements in the Middle East and North Africa region? How are they different from what brought people to the streets to protest during the Arab Spring? Are there any similarities between the movements in different countries in the region?

Lina Khatib, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Youssef Cherif, Director, Columbia Global Centers, Tunis
Linda El-Naggar, Analyst, Middle East and North Africa Programme, UI

Lucia Ardovini, Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, UI

Use this link to register

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.


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

A report on Lebanon’s ‘October revolution’

Street Solidarity: A Report on Lebanon’s ‘October Revolution’

Author: Erin Cory (Malmö University)



A report from November 2019, when the revolution was at its beginning.

“The sit-ins and dance parties feel long ago indeed in the face of mounting desperation. Lebanese politics has never lent itself to neat conclusions. Modes of dissent and solidarity, too, quickly change in color and scope in Lebanon, depending on what the moment calls for. We might expect the revolution – and the protests that carry it – to continue in some form, even if only, for the moment, online.”

Continue reading “A report on Lebanon’s ‘October revolution’”