major crises are chasing Iraq, most notably the specter of bankruptcy
- 8 hours ago
The Italian Post newspaper said that Iraq faces the risks of the Corona virus in the midst of a critical situation the country is going through, as it suffers from a suffocating economic crisis and a state of political chaos, as well as paying the price of tensions between the United States and Iran.
The newspaper added in a report that Iraq recorded 1378 confirmed cases of Corona virus, according to the data of the World Health Organization.
In contrast, the numbers are believed to be much higher, and it is worrying that hospitals in the country are unable to cope with a major health crisis, as well as many citizens do not respect the curfew imposed by the government.
The newspaper pointed out that the spread of the virus is adding to three major crises that the country is going through,
the first of which is the economic crisis, as the country is on the verge of bankruptcy due to low oil prices.
Secondly, its presence at the heart of the conflict between Iran and the United States.
And third, the difficult challenges facing Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Al-Kazemi.
The newspaper pointed out that in recent months, the price of oil fell dramatically, first because of Saudi Arabia's increased production, and then because of lower demand as a result of travel restrictions imposed to contain the epidemic.
In general, this is considered a major problem for Iraq because more than 90% of the state’s financial resources depend on oil. In this situation, the state seems unable to pay the salaries of employees and pensions of retirees.
The Ministry of Health was forced to request donations to finance the care of people infected with the Coronavirus.
The newspaper pointed out that matters became more complicated after the restrictions were imposed on movement due to the Corona virus and decreased, and thus the trade exchange.
Worse yet, there is no government able to take swift action to revive the economy.
The 2020 budget, which can only be approved by the presence of a new government, was drawn up when the price of oil was much higher.
The current political crisis in Iraq began last fall, in conjunction with the outbreak of large and violent protests against the policies of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, as well as the high rate of unemployment and corruption of the political class in the country.
At the end of November, the protests led to the resignation of Abdel-Mahdi, but he remained in office to conduct business, while continuous efforts were made to form a new government that could organize early elections as demanded by protesters.
In early February, Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi made the first attempt, but failed to obtain support from Shiite parties and related factions.
After that, the other designated prime minister, Adnan al-Zarfi, who holds American citizenship and is highly esteemed by the United States, took over this mission in mid-March.
However, his attempt was unsuccessful despite the support of some Shi'a political parties.
On April 9, President Barham Salih assigned intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kazemi to form the government.
For him, the first challenge is to get support from Shi’ite parties close to Iran, and he will have thirty days to present his government to parliament and gain confidence.
Settlement of accounts
The newspaper pointed to the exacerbation of the instability in Iraq after the country became the main arena for settling accounts between the United States and Iran, and tension has clearly increased since the United States killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
In recent months, American forces in Iraq have been subjected to numerous missile attacks that the United States attributes to Iranian-backed factions.
The newspaper pointed out that the spread of Corona had military consequences, as European and Canadian soldiers present in Iraq within the international coalition to fight the Islamic State were forced to leave the country because of this.
The US military has also suspended training for Iraqi forces to prevent the spread of the virus.
All of this could serve the interests of the Islamic State and urge the rest of its members to try to take advantage of the growing confusion in Iraq.
According to the military expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Knights, ISIS is the armed force most prepared for such an epidemic because its personnel are "preparing for the end of the world."
The newspaper concluded that these problems could increase the fragmentation situation in Iraq, especially in the absence of a central force that can unite the country to face these challenges.
On the contrary, there are several conflicting powers, where Kurds who have tried to secede in the past can return the ball if the government does not give them the promised funding.
Sunni leaders may also consider creating their own entity.
Moreover, protesters can return to the street strongly once the curfew imposed due to Corona is lifted.