Weekly briefing: Unrest in Iraq

A weekly round-up of relevant IEP data providing insight into the world around us.

Friday, 15 November 2019: More than a month after protests erupted in Iraq, the death toll has risen to above 300 people and the United Nations are now attempting to mediate between parliamentary groups. In early October, Iraqi protestors began rallying for an end to corruption, more jobs and better public services. Tens of thousands of people have protested across the country and faced attacks from Iraqi security forces, which have included shooting and water cannons. There are also reports of authorities interfering with media coverage of the protests and blocking the internet. Existing Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi promised a cabinet reshuffle, salary cuts for high-ranking officials, and schemes to reduce youth unemployment, but the protests continue. Some experts suggest that a new Arab Spring may be unfolding, as mass rallies propel nearby Lebanon and Egypt into disruption.

Iraq on the Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index ranking: 159 out of 163 countries
Positive Peace Index ranking: 148 out of 163 countries

Iraq is among the top five least peaceful countries in the world. Despite this, the latest Global Peace Index shows signs of improvement.

Out of the 23 indicators used to measure the 2019 Global Peace Index, Iraq improved in ten and deteriorated in only four. Indicators including armed services personnel rates, refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) as a percentage of the population, recorded the largest improvements. The country’s scores for the Political Terror Scale also improved substantially and the impact of terrorism also subsided.

The defeat of ISIL in both Iraq and Syria has led to an improvement in the security situation in both countries in the past two years, resulting in a decline in the level of violence and its economic impact.

However in Iraq, the economic cost of violence as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at one of the highest levels in the world, at 32 per cent. Iraq is among other conflict-affected countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Somalia and Colombia – that suffer from higher costs in the form of deaths and injuries from conflict deaths, terrorism, losses from refugees and IDPs, and GDP losses from conflict.