The Risks of Continued Political Deadlock in Iraq

  • 8 August 2010

The political deadlock in Iraq is perhaps most evident in the stalemate surrounding the government formation which is yet to be resolved even five months after the parliamentary elections. All efforts to work out an agreement between the different political parties have failed in the country giving rise to various potential risks. Following a meeting convened to discuss Iraq’s situation on Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council urged the various stakeholders in Iraq to put an end to the political vacuum and establish a representative government reflecting the will of the people as soon as possible. Meanwhile, a report on Iraq, submitted by the United Nations envoy Ad Melkert, has warned that repeated delays in the process of forming a new government can create a “sense of instability in the country” and that “opponents of the transitional process in Iraq might try to seize it”. This reflects the regional and international concern over the deadlock in Iraq and the dangerous consequences that it may lead to.

This is clearly the most serious challenge facing the country at the moment for various reasons. Firstly, the crisis has caused a constitutional vacuum which limits the government’s ability to exercise its duties and responsibilities. Political parties have already questioned the legitimacy of many of the decisions taken by the present government after the end of the statutory period and have raised doubts over the exercise of its transitional powers until the establishment of a new government. This crisis has negatively impacted the economic situation in the country and has hit the implementation of many development plans over recent months. The UN report released on Friday on Iraq’s development goals confirmed the slow progress in vital areas such as primary education, unemployment and access to safe water and sanitation services.

A continuous decline in these areas could cause instability in the country, especially in the wake of anger prevailing in several provinces in recent months. There have been protests over blackouts and the government has been criticized for its inability to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Also, political and constitutional crises are among the main factors that strengthen forces of extremism seeking to destabilize Iraq’s security and stability. The continued political deadlock, and its possible consequences, should prompt the various political forces in the country to take steps towards ending disputes. Only this would expedite the process of the formation of the new government and will help reduce the chances of the country slipping into anarchy.