This Tuesday, the United Nations special envoy for Iraq warned that the situation in this country is ‘highly volatile’ and urged the Iraqi leaders to hold talks to change the status quo.
She noted that almost a year after last October’s elections failed to form a government, Iraq has been suffering from instability, urging all sides to make up for their “strategic mistakes” and hold talks and pull Iraq back from the ledge.
“With risks of further strife and bloodshed still very tangible, dwelling on who did what when is no longer an option. Public disillusion is running sky-high, and too many Iraqis have lost faith in the country’s political class to act in the interests of the country and the people.” Plasschaert said.
“Iraq’s leaders must take responsibility and quickly engage in dialogue and put the spotlight on the people’s needs,” she also noted, further warning that “a continued failure to address this loss of faith will only exacerbate Iraq’s problems.”
Despite winning the most votes in parliamentary elections last October and receiving 73 seats in Iraq’s Parliament, the bloc of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr couldn’t get the agreement of other parties in the Parliament to form a majority government.
This sparked a series of reactions from Sadr and his followers both in the Parliament and people in the streets to protest, the former by unanimously resigning from their position and the latter by storming into Iraq’s streets and holding violent protests.
The attack of Sadr’s followers on the Parliament in late July even prevented their rivals from Shiite groups from forming a government either, causing a political deadlock in the country.
UN envoy offers the solution
Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that there are solutions for Iraq to get out of this deadlock. However, she noted that no solution could work unless Iraq’s leaders agree to start talking and be willing to compromise.
“Delivering a functioning government is merely the first step to overcoming the current crisis in a sustainable way,” she said, adding also that “A wide range of critical issues must be addressed. Chief among them is the adoption of federal budget, absent which state spending could come to a halt by the end of the year.”
Plasschaert then referred to so many lost opportunities for Iraq to have meaningful reforms since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Iraq’s longtime dictator Saddam Hussein back in 2003.
She also emphasized the role of economic chaos in Iraq as one of the main reasons for unrest and asserted that corruption remains a core feature of Iraq’s current political economy, built into everyday transactions. “Pervasive corruption is a major root cause of Iraqi dysfunctionality. And frankly, no leader can claim to be shielded from it,” the Iraqi envoy said. She also warned that keeping this system as it is will backfire, “sooner rather than later.”
Iraq still scene to protests and violence
Notwithstanding of the UN Security Council meeting this Tuesday and the alarming words expressed by Plasschaert, Iraq witnessed violent protests this Monday, with demonstrators setting fire to a government building in Dhi Qar, southern Iraq.
Also on Saturday this week, the protests led to clashes between angry Iraqis and security forces in the center of Baghdad as thousands of Iraqis had gathered around the city’s iconic Tahrir Square. The result was dozens of people being injured during the demonstrations.