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

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

UI Brief: Economic transition in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Economic Diversification and the Youth Population in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia: Double Dividend or Double Jeopardy?

Author: Jeanine Schriemer (The Swedish Institute of International Affairs)
March, 2021

The Swedish Institute of International Affairs


Oil has shaped the social contract between the state and its citizens, how will the transition to a more diverse economy affect state-society relations?

This UI Brief aim to explore the economic transitions of two monarchies facing urgent pressure to reform, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in order to shed light on the main drivers of and obstacles to transition.

Gaza and West Bank – How to Unite One People

How can authority and legitimacy be restored in the Palestinian territories and how will Palestinians find a common and realistic path forward to resolve the conflicts within their society and with Israel?

Geographically, Palestinian society is divided between the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Politically, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza strip have been competing for authority, while living in the shadow of Israeli dominance. Nevertheless, as political elites, they are both responsible for the corruption and mismanagement that continuously exacerbates the effects of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy and society. President Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2005 for a four-year term, but new elections have yet to be held. Just below the surface, there are young generations of Palestinians for whom the two-state project is a faded dream and the Palestinian Authority is held in low esteem.


Anders Persson. Senior Lecturer Department of Political Science at Linnaeus University

Dr Yara Hawari: Dr Hawari is a Senior Palestine Policy Fellow of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.

Muhammad Shehada: Manager at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor

Marwa Fatafta: Policy Manager at Access Now and Policy Analyst and Al-Shabaka

Moderator: Dr Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of UI MENA Programme


Click here to register and read more about the event.

The International Law Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict comprises several thorny political and legal issues; such as the law of occupation, notions of sovereignty and territory, the rights of minorities and the structures of representative democracy. While international law is quite clear on some of these issues, the law operates within political contexts and as we have seen in the course of the past 20 years the respect for fundamental legal frameworks has been weakened.

This webinar is the first series of three in which we will explore the legal aspects and ramifications of the conflict as well as the state of play in both the Israeli and Palestinian society.

More information can be found here.

Valentina Azarova: Research Fellow, Manchester International Law Centre, University of Manchester, and Legal advisor with the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)
Catriona Drew: Lecturer in International Law the School of Law and the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London
Ralph Wilde: Associate Professor, Faculty of Laws at University College London
Pål Wrange: Professor of Public International Law at Stockholm University. Director, Stockholm Center for International Law and Justice

Rouzbeh Parsi
, Head of UI:s MENA Programme