As Iraq enters 2021, an economic crisis looms on the horizon, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in oil prices. For months now, signs of this crisis have surfaced through delays in payment of public salaries and pensions, and most recently, a decision by the Central Bank of Iraq to devalue the Iraqi dinar, pegged to the U.S. dollar, by 23%. The tension on the street is palpable. Despite the financial strain, the cabinet’s proposed budget is nearly the same as the last budget passed in 2019. However, there are increases in security-sector budgets, including that of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, the Counterterrorism Service (CTS) and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) — a set of paramilitary groups that was established to help defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. This makes paramilitaries, and the political entities associated with them, powerful economic actors on the eve of an economic crisis, when Iraq’s youthful and financially beleaguered population is most susceptible to clientelism.
How Iraq’s economic crisis affects its traditional and non-traditional security sector.
by Marsin Alshamary
Brookings – Order from Chaos. 15 January 2021