Over one year after taking office as the head of cabinet in Iraq, Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani’s career as the prime minister has taken the test of time amid challenges that can devour and strangle any government in a normal condition. Iraq, however, is still far from a normal state with the country in a state of transition after the fall of Saddam Hussein two decades earlier.
Iraq deals with corruption at a deep level, mismanagement at a critical stage, and public dissatisfaction at a grave condition. The one-year Al Sudani government has been somewhat successful in attaining stability in governance and fighting corruption. The measures, in any case, fell short of coaxing the Iraqi youth into a sympathetic attitude towards Al Sudani and his administration.
Iraqi society is characterized by an inner wrath that it inherited from the years of Saddam Hussein’s oppression, ISIS insurgence, and multiple years of corruption, malfunction, and service delivery failure. The 2019 uprising was an exhausted response to decades of running and failing to attain by a generation that found the resolution on the streets rather than already failed democratic structures. As such, Al Sudani has a tough job regaining the confidence of the nation in a political structure that is still ailing and serves the elite more than the public.
Al Sudani; One Year in Office
Right after taking the office, Al Sudani government’s lens was focused on the main vacant holes of his predecessors’ career; the service delivery. Al Sudani established a Government Service Delivery Team whose main mission was to fix and facilitate the public service delivery based on the priorities and necessities of the nation. Iraq made various deals with foreign corporations on energy sector like Total Energies and General Electric to ensure the energy independence and secure the stable revenue for the nation.
The new government also started grand road projects, both highways and railroads, in a campaign to turn the country into a regional hub, interconnecting the east to the west. En route, the administration cooperates with an Iran-affiliated company that proposed the railway between the two countries as the main step to open a new corridor to the Europe. Al Sudani has got a long way to realize the ambition, but the project has already had its impact on local services. A barter deal with Iran returning oil with gas has been attempting to serve the Iraqi society living in scorching summers of a desert region.
The government has also been successful in passing a three-year budget in the Congress. The achievement can lead the nation into years of stability with the government being able to devise and implement long-term plans and projects and make business and energy agreements with neighbors and big corporations across the world. The budget achievement disappointed the opposition groups who had an eye on gradual challenges of Al Sudani cabinet that could lead to a peaceful collapse of the government.
Pragmatic as they are, Al Sudani and his cabinet have been welcomed for their honesty and practical plans and projects for the near and far future. Having finished a Master’s degree in Project Management at Baghdad university and worked with multiple governments at different levels seems to have endowed the prime minister with a realistic and plausible impression about societal requirements and necessities in Iraq.
Despite the general contents about Al Sudani and his one-year functioning, the government has failed to deliver some of its main plans and commitments. For a nation long dealing with the reverberations of corruption and fraud in the political and economic structures of the country, the prime minister’s nobility won’t be a privilege on its own. Al Sudani, by the way, will have a hard job reforming a structure from which a large group of elites gain interests.
The Muhasasa system, which was introduced back in 2003 to guarantee the fair distribution of power among all groups in Iraq, has turned to the main Achilles heel of the democratic system of Iraq. The system forbids any overhaul in the recruiting processes and continues to highly distinguish and privilege the elite group of Iraqi governance from the rest of society. The Muhasasa actually established a two-tier system in Iraqi society in which the distribution of services and the recruiting processes are under sharp impact. As such, the closed-circle system has served a minority group and secured a corruption at all levels. The first tier has touched the politics that kept failing in providing and delivering the services to the second tier.
Al Sudani administration has made steps to introduce reforms to the current governing system, fertile for corruption and misfunctioning. The government’s remarks and attitudes has signified that it believes the policymaking processes in Iraq needs overhaul at deep levels to heal the societal wounds that erupted once in 2019 and may implode in the future. The poor politics and corruption, in a vicious circle, have reinforced one another in Iraqi political and economic structures, undermining the public while advantaging the elite group. Any figure or group who wants to change the current state of affairs might risk its being and grip to power due to a complex power dynamic that Muhasasa has formed in two decades.
The Iraqi administration, apart from local challenges, faces disputes on a higher level of policymaking. The Government has good ties with Tehran and its military and non-military proxies in Iraq. Baghdad has facilitated the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks leading to the restoration of relationships after seven years. Al Sudani also celebrates the presence of American troops in Iraqi soils, noting their role in combating the ISIS insurgence. Al Sudani means to hold on to both power sources in the region in a bid to avoid any potential security crisis and promote integration and collaborative engagement.
The Israeli-Gaza conflict, however, proved debilitating to that stratagem following the spike in the confrontations between Iranian proxies and American troops. During the process of three months, Iraqi bases and camps inflicted over 30 raids while Washington responded more tolerantly targeting some zones deemed to be controlled by these militia. Baghdad will definitely face grinding challenges dealing with the new condition, intricating its triangular model of ties with Tehran and Washington.