Thursday, June 28, 2012

Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction’s “Hard Lessons” Chapter 9 “Bremer’s Grand Visions”


In April 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was created to take charge of post-war Iraq from the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs (ORHA). The organization was placed under the charge of Paul Bremer who was immediately overwhelmed by the situation within the country. In the next few months, four sets of surveys were done of the reconstruction needs of Iraq with suggestions for the CPA. In turn, the Authority came up with its first detailed plan for how it was going to rebuild the nation. The problem was that the CPA ignored most of the main ideas made by the outside experts. That would go on to undermine much of the American effort to improve Iraq after it emerged from over a decade of international sanctions and a recent invasion.

Almost as soon as the Coalition Provisional Authority was created a series of experts came through Iraq to assess the situation, come up with lists of the major needs, and cost estimates for how much it would take to reconstruct the country. Altogether, four separate reports were generated that estimated that the nation needed around $60 billion to repair everything. That was far above all the previous projections made by the American government. There were some early claims, such as by the Office of Management and Budget within the White House that believed Iraqi reconstruction would cost as little as $50-$60 million. Not only that, but other agencies like the Pentagon claimed that Iraqi oil and frozen assets would pay for almost the entire endeavor. As a result, Congress had only approved $2.4 billion for the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund in April 2003. Those early claims were part of the best-case scenario thinking that had marked the Bush administration’s post-war planning for Iraq. It believed that the U.S. could invade, have a short period of humanitarian relief, and then leave within months of the fall of Saddam Hussein. The reality was quickly setting in that Iraq was not only going to be an immensely costly project, but a long-term one as well.

The first two groups to come through Iraq to look into the country’s reconstruction needs were the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Bechtel in April. USAID had already given Bechtel a $680 million contract to work in Iraq, so their survey was more a preview for what they were going to end up doing. Together, the two looked at transportation, aviation, buildings, water, electricity, and the Um Qasr port in Basra. They found that Iraq’s infrastructure was in poor shape. The country had been under international sanctions since 1990 after it invaded Kuwait, and those proceeding thirteen years had taken its toll. Many things were falling apart by the time of the U.S. invasion. Together, the USAID-Bechtel report estimated that Iraq needed $16 billion. It warned of five major problems ahead for the U.S. including the lack of security, poor coordination amongst government agencies, limited information about Iraq, complicated contract regulations, and unexploded ordinance that littered the place. The two predicted that the budding insurgency and looting would dramatically increase costs, and that unless the Americans did a lot better job at getting their different organizations to work together, the entire rebuilding project could be undermined. Those warnings were the first of many that would predict how the U.S. reconstruction effort would go astray.

In May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working with Kellogg, Brown & Root and the Iraqi Oil Ministry looked at the petroleum industry. They found $457 million in war damages, and $943 million in harm done by looting. They estimated those predictions could vary by as much as 40%. They called for an integrated plan by the CPA, because the oil industry was dependent upon electricity and water. If one part of that rebuilding effort failed, it would affect the rest. They also said that the Iraqis needed to be intimately involved in the process from the beginning so that they could handle the equipment that would be installed, and that security was a priority. The locals were not included however, and the Iraqi Oil and Electricity Ministries when they were put back together never coordinated, a problem that lasts until this day.

In the summer, the United Nations and World Bank looked at Iraq’s overall development needs. Like USAID and Bechtel, they found the nation in a sorry state of neglect and deterioration. They estimated that health, education, agriculture, government, rule of law, oil, and security would cost a total of $56 billion. Like others, they also warned that unless security was established the entire effort could be threatened, and that Iraq’s technocrats and bureaucracy had to be re-instated so that the nation could run itself. That latter issue would prove to be a major one, because as the fighting took off, there was a giant brain drain out of the country.

Finally, in June, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to do a report on Iraq. It sent a set of experts to half of the country’s eighteen provinces, and thought that it would take years to rebuild the contry. Like others, it said that security was preeminent, that Iraqis should be included in the process, that jobs should be a top priority, and that power should be decentralized to the provinces, to break the centralized system used by Saddam Hussein. In the end, the Center’s report suggested that the CPA get a dramatic increase in funding, and be given the freedom to spend it as it saw fit. The CSIS therefore came to many of the same conclusions as the previous three findings.

The four reports and the pressing situation in Iraq led the CPA to write its own program for rebuilding the country. That became known as Vision for Iraq, which set out the goals of creating a democracy, providing security, services, economic development, governance, and communication. It noted that security was the main priority otherwise the rest of the plan could not come to fruition. It said that this was going to be achieved through creating a new Iraqi security force. The Coalition also wanted free market reforms, and to impose the rule of law. In July, the report was sent to the Pentagon, which approved it on July 18. Bremer then asked his staff to come up with detailed plans on how it was going to achieve its aims. That became another paper, Achieving the Vision to Restore Full Sovereignty to the Iraqi People. That too was presented to Washington at the end of July. While these were all necessary steps, the CPA almost immediately began ignoring the recommendations of the experts that had come through beforehand. For instance, Iraqis were never included in any of the Coalition’s deliberations. It had created the Iraqi Governing Council, but it was never asked about the two reports. The two officials who drew up the Achieving paper even worried about the consequences of not talking with Iraqis about what was going to happen to them, but they didn’t seem to act on their concerns. A second major issue was that the Coalition did not come up with realistic goals or costs for the work that they were about to embark on. This was the beginning of a long line of problems the CPA would run into. With four reports on what Iraq needed, it seemed like Bremer and his staff were going to come up with their own opinions. This was something that marked all of the post-war planning made by the Bush administration from the day that it started. There were always an array of groups talking about what needed to be done, but little to none of it was coordinated, undermining the whole process.

The first specific dilemma the CPA ran into with its new plan was finding the money that it required. In July, the Coalition put together a budget for Iraq’s ministries for the rest of the year. That was for $6.1 billion, and had a deficit of $2.2 billion. It believed that seized Iraqi funds, money from the Development Fund for Iraq that collected Iraq’s oil revenue, and money form Congress would cover the difference. Out of the budget however, only $609.5 million was for reconstruction and investment, a pittance after the estimates that the CPA was just given, which totaled around $60 billion. That led Bremer to come up with a far more robust 2004 budget for Iraq that was for $35 billion with a $23 billion deficit. This time, the CPA was going to ask Congress for a supplemental spending bill, and for international aid to cover the difference. In July, the Coalition started drafting a request for Congress, and also came up with the International Donors Conference to be held in October. In September, the White House included the CPA’s estimate in an $87 billion request to Congress for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This came as a shock to the legislature after all of the rhetoric by the administration about how little Iraq was going to cost, and how they were going to pay for their own rebuilding. There was some initial questioning of the request, but the money was eventually requisitioned.

Another group that was critical of the CPA was USAID. They were not included in the CPA’s plans even though they were one of the first U.S. agencies in Iraq. It also said that the Coalition’s plan did not include capacity building, democracy programs, agriculture, and economic development. The CPA was focusing almost solely upon large project as well, which USAID warned would cost a lot of money, but would not create much employment for Iraqis, which it thought was a priority. USAID believed that agriculture would be a much better investment, because it was the largest pre-war employer in the country, but there was nothing for farming in the CPA request. The Agency also emphasized that institution building was the most important legacy the Americans could leave behind, because they would last long after the U.S. departed the country. As a result, USAID asked the White House to revise the CPA’s plans, and requested its own $5 billion to spend on Iraq. Both the administration and Congress ignored that. Within Iraq, it led to more infighting, another thing that the outside reports warned about should be avoided to maximize the U.S. effort.

It’s not like all of the CPA’s efforts were in vain. In October 2003, it carried off a rather successful donors conference in Madrid, Spain. There was a major setback when in August, the United Nations building in Baghdad was bombed, which led many foreign countries and groups to believe that Iraq was too dangerous to send any money to. In the end, countries committed $13.5 billion in loans and grants, with Japan being the largest with $4.9 billion. The United Nations created the International Reconstruction Fund Facility to manage the contributions. While fewer than half of the 76 countries and organizations that attended the meeting actually said that they would give money to Iraq, it still generated a hefty sum, which would help with rebuilding the country.

Together, the money generated from the donors conference and the requests to Congress would create the largest reconstruction program for a single country in U.S. history. The CPA noted the enormity of the task at hand, and started to plan for it immediately. The problem was that it ignored some of the most important recommendations from the four outside reports. It didn’t include Iraqis, it didn’t generate inter-agency cooperation, it didn’t create institutions, and it failed to provide jobs for locals. Finally, it didn’t come up with realistic timetables and goals, because it failed to survey the conditions within the country. The U.S. also failed to provide security. With that list of problems it was no surprise that the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction considered the American effort a failure. In 2012, after tens of billions had been spent on the country it still can’t provide basics like enough electricity to meet demand. More importantly, effective government institutions were not created that would provide good management of the nation and its resources. Instead, everything is politicized. The U.S. never lacked a set of plans for what to do in Iraq. What it always seemed to do was come up with too many of them, none of which were coordinated. Everything appeared ad hoc as a result with one group after another doing what it wanted with little organization behind it all.This chaos is what would come to characterize the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the entire American rebuilding process.

 Other Chapters From The Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction's Hard Lessons










SOURCES

Crocker, Bathsheba, “Post-War Iraq: Are We Ready?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 3/25/03

Elliott, Michael, “So, What Went Wrong?” Time, 10/6/03

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Hard Lessons,” 1/22/09

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Iraq Tries To Deter Other Major Oil Companies From Signing With Kurds


Iraq’s government is afraid that Exxon Mobile’s deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) might have opened the floodgates to other major oil companies doing the same. The Kurds have followed their own independent oil policy since 2002, even before Saddam Hussein was deposed. Dozens of foreign energy businesses have signed contracts with them since then, but all were small to medium in size. Baghdad blacklisted them from working in the rest of the country, knowing that none of them had plans to do so, and that none of them fit into its national petroleum policy. Now other large corporations, including France’s Total, have expressed interest in going to Kurdistan. The central government has recently warned the French about coming to an agreement with the Kurds, but is likely to be as unsuccessful as it was with Exxon.

Deputy Premier Hussein Shahristani has tried to stave off France’s Total from working with the Kurdistan Regional Government. In June 2012, Shahristani told France’s Ambassador to Iraq that French oil companies working in the country should not sign contracts with other entities, meaning the Kurds. This was the second time the deputy prime minister had issued a warning. Back in February, he said that no oil contract could be signed without going through the Oil Ministry when stories first emerged that Total was interested in the KRG. Shahristani is in charge of Iraq’s energy policy. He has been the strongest opponent of the Kurds’ independent petroleum strategy ever since he was the Oil Minister in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s first administration. It was no surprise then that he was at the forefront of trying to deter Total from coming to an agreement with the KRG after it already won a contract for the Halfaya field in Maysan in 2009 with the central government
Total's CEO de Margerie has said that his company is in talks with Kurdistan for a new oil deal there (Arabian Business)
Shahristani’s warnings came in response to news stories of Total becoming more interested in what the Kurds had to offer. In mid-June, KRG Natural Resource Minister Ashti Hawrami told the press that other major oil companies were going to sign contracts with his ministry after Exxon did. That came amongst reports that both Total and Norway’s Statoil might enter Kurdistan. In fact, the CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie stated that his company was already in talks with the Kurds in March, and might have sent delegates to the region as early as January. The reason why Total has threatened its existing contract with the Oil Ministry is because it has grown unhappy with the terms it received, and has been complaining about them for almost a year now. CEO Margerie has speculated that the company may not be able to recover its initial investment with the low remuneration fees it agreed to for instance. Although Kurdistan has much smaller reserves, and the initial work might just be for exploration, the KRG offers more profits than the central government, and a better business environment with less red tape. These were the exact same reasons why Exxon entered the Kurdish market at the end of 2010. It too grew tired of the endless delays it found with Baghdad over everything from getting its workers into the country to payments. It also feels that it should be able to work in any part of the country. Total seems to be following the exact same strategy.

Exxon’s deal with the Kurds has opened up all kinds of problems for the central government. Baghdad has been unsuccessful in trying to change its mind, because it knows that the corporation has the upper hand. If the Oil Ministry were to void its contract it would not only be open to a lawsuit, but would also add more problems to the already difficult relationship that it has with many of the other energy companies working in southern Iraq. Total finds itself in the same situation. It too has grown tired of the hassles it has to go through at the Halfaya field, especially because it is worried that it will never make any money off of it. It therefore is following Exxon’s lead by entering into negotiations with the KRG over working there. It also believes that it should be able to operate in both northern and southern Iraq. The central government finds itself in a battle of wills with the very corporations that it initially welcomed into the country three years ago. Baghdad appears to be losing, especially if Total does eventually come to terms with the KRG, but it still holds a few cards in its hands. The two most important of which are that one, it controls the pipelines meaning that it can cut off Kurdish exports, and two, with output in the south taking off it doesn’t need the Kurdish contribution like it did before. That means unless the KRG and Baghdad come to some sort of compromise, the foreign firms may be stuck doing nothing but exploratory work and limited production for local use and smuggling. Exxon and now Total seem to be trying to force the hand of the central government into coming to some sort of agreement with the Kurds, but it’s yet to be seen who will win. As of now, the Maliki government seems to be sticking to its guns.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “French Total seeks business in Iraqi Kurdistan: chief,” 3/13/12

Hadi, Hemn, “Total in talks to invest in Kurdistan’s oil,” AK News, 5/19/12

Hafidh, Hassan, “Total Submits Plan To Utilize Gas From Iraq Missan Oil Fields –Official,” Dow Jones, 1/27/12

International Business Times, “Total Close to Securing Oil-and-Gas Exploration Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan: Report,” 1/29/12

International Crisis Group, “Iraq And The Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit,” 4/19/12

Jacobs, Caroline and Boselli, Muriel, “UPDATE 3-Total latest oil group to shift Iraq focus to Kurdistan,” Reuters, 2/10/12

Reuters, “Iraq warns France against unsanctioned oil deals,” 6/20/12
- “Shahristani says Total cannot sign Kurdistan deals,” 2/12/12

EURONEWS VIDEO: Iraq PM Threatens Early Poll As Fresh Violence Flares


Iraq PM threatens early poll as fresh violence... by euronews-en

RADIO FREE IRAQ VIDEO: Dohuk: Festival Of The People

VIDEO: Abu Iraq, The Father Of Iraq

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life In Iraq Before And After The Invasion Updated


People have often asked whether Iraq is better or worse off after the 2003 U.S. invasion. Many would have said the latter when the insurgency started immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and then the country fell into civil war from 2005-2008. To complicate the matter, Saddam led Iraq down the path of a series of horrible foreign policy decisions, which devastated the economy. In the 1970s, Iraq was a fast growing nation where services and income were quickly rising. Then in 1980, Saddam invaded Iran, which diverted the country’s wealth to the war effort. Afterward it was left with a huge debt, and lots of war damage, but rather then rebuild, the regime decided to re-arm. Those two issues led to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the 1991 Gulf War, and then more than a decade of international sanctions. During that time living standards plummeted. That meant that Iraq went through nearly thirty years of economic decline even before the 2003 invasion. Now that major fighting is over, and Iraqis are going back to their normal lives it seems like as good a time as any to compare how the country is doing.

Per Capita Gross Domestic Product

Per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a deceiving number when it comes to Iraq and many of its neighbors in North Africa and the Middle East. That’s because most economies in the region are based upon oil, which does not really trickle down to the average citizen. A nation might have a very high per capita number, but the people could actually be living quite poorly. Iraq’s GDP took off in the 1970s due to the OPEC oil boycott, which raised prices on Iraq’s main export. In 1979, Iraq had a per capita GDP of $4,200. By the early 1980s, just as the Iran-Iraq War started, it was still around $3,600, but by the time it was over in 1988, it was down to $1,765. The economy started recovering the next year when per capita GDP was up to$2,304, but then Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the United Nations imposed international sanctions. In 1990, the country was at a pitiful $938. In 2002, before the U.S. invasion, it was even lower at $802, which dropped to $518 the next year. Since then, the figure has slowly crept up to $949 in 2004, $1,237 in 2005, $1,720 in 2006, $1,926 in 2007, $2,845 in 2008, and $2,108 in 2009. When compared to other countries in the region, Iraq was right in the middle in 2010. Gross Domestic Product Purchasing Power Parity is a way to compare costs across different countries. In 2010, Iraq was at $113.4 billion, which was better than Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain. Again, the problem with these numbers it that they are largely based upon the price of oil. When oil production eventually took off in Iraq after 2003, and the price skyrocketed in the last few years due to tensions in the Middle East, the GDP rose as well. That meant little for actual living conditions for Iraqis however.

Iraq’s Per Capita GDP 1979-2009
Year
Per Capita GDP
1979
$4,200
Early 1980s
$3,600
1988
$1,765
1989
$2,304
1990
$938
2002
$802
2003
$518
2004
$949
2005
$1,237
2006
$1,720
2007
$1,926
2008
$2,845
2009
$2,108

GDP Purchasing Power Parity Middle East and North Africa 2010
Nation
GDP Purchasing Power Parity
Bahrain
$29.71 bil
Jordan
$34.53 bil
Lebanon
$60.69 bil
Yemen
$63.4 bil
Oman
$75.84 bil
Libya
$90.57 bil
Tunisia
$100 bil
Syria
$107.4 bil
Iraq
$113.4 bil
Kuwait
$136.5 bil
Qatar
$150.6 bil
Morocco
$151.4 bil
Israel
$219.4 bil
UAE
$246.8 bil
Algeria
$251.1 bil
Egypt
$497.8 bil
Saudi Arabia
$622 bil
Iran
$818.7 bil




Unemployment And Poverty Level

Better statistics to see how Iraqis are doing today might be derived from looking at unemployment and people living below the poverty line. In both cases, Iraq was near the very bottom in the region. In 2009, Iraq’s official jobless rate was 15.3%, while unofficially it was 30%. Only Libya, 30%, and Yemen 35%, had worst figures, and Bahrain and Oman at 15% each were at just about the same level. That left twelve countries that were doing better employing their population. Iraq did little better with its poverty rate with 25% of the population living off of just $2 per day. That again placed it at the bottom. Both figures showed that despite the steady increase in per capita GDP, there were plenty of Iraqis who were struggling.

Unemployment Rates Middle East and North Africa
Nation
Unemployment
Qatar
0.5% (2010)
Kuwait
2.2% (2004)
UAE
2.4% (2001)
Israel
6.7% (2010)
Syria
8.3% (2010)
Egypt
9% (2010)
Morocco
9.1% (2010)
Algeria
10% (2010)
Saudi Arabia
10.8% (2010)
Jordan
12.5% (2010)
Tunisia
13% (2010)
Iran
13.2% (2010)
Oman
15% (2004)
Bahrain
15% (2005)
Iraq
15.3% (2009)
Libya
30% (2004)
Yemen
35% (2003)
Lebanon
N/A

People Living Below Poverty Level Middle East and North Africa
Nations
Pop. Below Poverty Level
Tunisia
3.8% (2005)
Syria
11.9% (2006)
Jordan
14.2% (2002)
Morocco
15% (2007)
Iran
18% (2007)
UAE
19.5% (2003)
Egypt
20% (2005)
Algeria
23% (2006)
Israel
23.6% (2007)
Iraq
25% (2008)
Libya
Approx. 33%
Lebanon
28% (1999)
Yemen
45.2%
Bahrain
N/A
Kuwait
N/A
Oman
N/A
Qatar
N/A
Saudi Arabia
N/A

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in Iraq declined after the 2003 invasion, but has since rebounded. According to the World Bank, in 1990 Iraqis lived an average of 65 years. That went up to 71 in 1996, but then went down to 67 in 2007. By 2011, it was up to 70.55. When compared to the rest of North Africa and the Middle East however, Iraq could still not escape the basement, with only Yemen, 63.75 years, and Iran 70.06 years, doing worse. People were living longer in Iraq in the 1990s despite the sanctions, but that dropped after the U.S. invasion likely because of the disrupted economy and all the fighting. Now that both are recovering, the numbers are going back up.

Life Expectancy In Iraq 1990-2011
Year
Life Expectancy
1990
65 yrs
1996
71 yrs
2007
67 yrs
2011
70 yrs

Life Expectancy Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Life Expectancy (2011)
Yemen
63.74
Iran
70.06
Iraq
70.55
Egypt
72.66
Saudi Arabia
74.11
Oman
74.22
Algeria
74.5
Syria
74.69
Tunisia
75.01
Lebanon
75.23
Qatar
75.7
Morocco
75.9
UAE
76.51
Libya
77.065
Kuwait
77.09
Bahrain
78.15
Jordan
80.05
Israel
80.96

Infant Deaths

Infant mortality rates were a major issue in Iraq in the 1990s when the country was under United Nations sanctions. Previous to that, Iraq’s health care sector was improving, and more babies were surviving birth. In the 1980s, there were 80 deaths per 1,000 live births. (1) By 1990, that had dropped to 50 per 1,000 births. In 2001, Iraq was showing the signs of sanctions with 133 deaths per 1,000 births. Ten years later, and that was down to 41.68 deaths, the best it had been for decades. Even then, that was the third worst rate in the region showing that Iraq’s advances have still not caught it up with the majority of countries that it lives amongst.

Infant Mortality Rates In Iraq 1980s-2011
Year
Infant Mortality Rate – Deaths per 1,000 Live Births
1980s
80
1990
50
2001
133
2011
41

Infant Mortality Rates Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Infant Mortality Rate – Deaths Per 1,000 Live Births (2011)
Israel
4.12
Kuwait
8.07
Bahrain
10.43
UAE
11.94
Qatar
12.05
Lebanon
15.32
Oman
15.47
Syria
15.62
Saudi Arabia
16.16
Jordan
16.42
Libya
20.09
Egypt
25.2
Algeria
25.82
Tunisia
25.92
Morocco
27.53
Iraq
41.68
Iran
42.26
Yemen
55.11

Education

Another sector of Iraqi society that took a hit in recent decades was the education system. In 1980, nearly 100% of school-aged children were enrolled in primary school. That dropped to 91% in 1990, 85% in 2007, and then 83% in 2010. That steady drop was due to the Iran-Iraq War, the U.N. sanctions, and then the violence that beset the country after 2003. With fighting finally subsiding it is finally becoming safe for Iraqi children to attend school again, but the numbers are still declining. These figures also hide the fact that Iraq’s schools are facing major problems such as a shortage of facilities, outdated curriculum, lack of trained staff, high illiteracy, and low achievement rates. In 2011 for instance, 74.1% of Iraqis were literate, which was the fifth worst rate in the region.

Literacy Rates Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Literacy (2011)
Yemen
50.2%
Morocco
52.3%
Algeria
69.9%
Egypt
71.4%
Iraq
74.1%
Tunisia
74.3%
Iran
77%
UAE
77.9%
Saudi Arabia
78.8%
Syria
79.6%
Oman
81.4%
Libya
82.6%
Bahrain
86.5%
Qatar
89%
Lebanon
87.4%
Jordan
89.9%
Kuwait
93.3%
Israel
97.1%

Population Pressures

One of the main problems facing Iraq today is pressure from its fast-growing population. In 2011, Iraq had an estimated 30.3 million people. That was the fifth largest in the Middle East and North Africa. Not only that, but the median age was 20.9 years with 38% of the population 14 years or younger, making Iraq the second youngest populace in the region. With a popular growth rate of 2.399%, the fourth highest, and a birth rate of 28.81 per 1,000, the second highest, Iraq is going through a population boom. That is putting a huge strain upon the society. Iraq has a state-run economy. The government is the largest employer, runs most of the factories, and imports a huge amount of goods. With the biggest industry in the country, oil, only employing 1% of the population that leaves the public sector to try to take up the slack. There are thousands of people in useless government jobs as a result, but even that can’t make up for the shortfall, which is a major reason why there is high unemployment, and an even higher underemployment rate. To make matters worse, Iraq is following the regional trend of the Gulf States by importing thousands of cheap foreign workers ignoring the needs of its own population. As things currently stand, there’s no way for the economy to provide enough work opportunities for this growing and ever younger population. There is little impetus at the present time to fix anything, and ideas of creating more market forces have largely remained just talk. That could lead to large social problems down the road.

Population Middle East and North Africa 2011
Egypt 82,079,636
Iran 77,891,220
Algeria 34,994,937
Morocco 31,968,361
Iraq 30,399,572
Saudi Arabia 26,131,703
Yemen 24,133,492
Syria 22,517,750 (2010)
Tunisia 10,629,186
Israel 7,473,052 (2010
Libya 6,597,960
Jordan 6,508,271
UAE 5,148,664
Lebanon 4,140,289
Oman 3,027,959
Kuwait 2,595,628
Bahrain 1,214,705
Qatar 848,016

Median Age Middle East and North Africa 2011
Yemen 18.1
Iraq 20.9
Syria 21.9
Jordan 22.1
Oman 24.1
Egypt 24.3
Libya 24.5
Saudi Arabia 25.3
Iran 26.8
Morocco 26.9
Algeria 27.6
Kuwait 28.5
Israel 29.4
Lebanon 29.8
Tunisia 30.0
UAE 30.2
Qatar 30.8
Bahrain 30.9

Age Structure Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Age Structure (2011)
Yemen
0-14 43%
15-64 54.4%
65+ 2.6%
Iraq
0-14 38%
15-64 58.9%
65+ 3.1%
Jordan
0-14 35.3%
15-64 59.9%
65+ 4.8%
Syria
0-14 35.2%
15-64 61%
65+ 3.8%
Libya
0-14 32.8%
15-64 62.7%
65+ 4.6%
Egypt
0-14 32.7%
15-64 62.8%
65+ 4.5%
Oman
0-14 31.2%
15-64 65.7%
65+ 3.1%
Saudi Arabia
0-14 29.4%
15-64 67.6%
65+ 3%
Morocco
0-14 27.8%
15-64 67.6%
65+ 6.1%
Israel
0-14 27.6%
15-64 62.2%
65+ 10.1%
Kuwait
0-14 25.8%
15-64 72.2%
65+ 2%
Algeria
0-14 24.2%
15-64 70.6%
65+ 5.2%
Iran
0-14 24.1%
15-64 70.9%
65+ 5%
Tunisia
0-14 23.32%
15-64 69.3%
65+ 7.5%
Lebanon
0-14 23%
15-64 68%
65+ 9%
Qatar
0-14 21.8%
15-64 76.7%
65+ 1.5%
Bahrain
0-14 20.5%
15-64 77%
65+ 2.6%
UAE
0-14 20.4%
15-64 78.7%
65+ 0.9%

Population Growth Rate Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Pop. Growth Rate
(2011)
Lebanon
-0.38%
Qatar
0.81%
Syria
0.913%
Tunisia
0.978%
Jordan
0.984%
Morocco
1.067%
Algeria
1.173%
Iran
1.248%
Saudi Arabia
1.536%
Israel
1.584%
Egypt
1.96%
Kuwait
1.986%
Oman
2.023%
Libya
2.064%
Iraq
2.399%
Yemen
2.647%
Bahrain
2.814%
UAE
3.282%

Birth Rate Middle East and North Africa 2011
Nations
Birth Rate (2011)
Bahrain
14.64 per 1,000
Lebanon
14.92 per 1,000
Qatar
15.48 per 1,000
UAE
15.87 per 1,000
Algeria
16.69 per 1,000
Tunisia
17.4 per 1,000
Iran
18.55 per 1,000
Morocco
19.19 per 1,000
Israel
19.24 per 1,000
Saudi Arabia
19.34 per 1,000
Kuwait
21.32 per 1,000
Syria
23.99 per 1,000
Libya
24.04 per 1,000
Oman
24.15 per 1,000
Egypt
24.63 per 1,000
Jordan
26.79 per 1,000
Iraq
28.81 per 1,000
Yemen
33.49 per 1,000

Conclusion


It’s hard to make an exact comparison between Iraq before and after the 2003 invasion. Before the fall of the former regime, most figures about Iraqi society were held as state secrets. Many numbers immediately after 2003 were also unavailable or unreliable, because the fighting made it nearly impossible to collect many statistics. Now that’s beginning to change as Iraq is returning to a state of normality even though there are still major terrorist attacks. What the figures show is a country facing many problems, but not for the assumed reasons. Rather than the invasion or war being the root cause, today the fast growing population and the flawed economy are the leading issues. The number of people in Iraq is going up and up and up, but there are not enough jobs to employ them. The state-run system means that the resources available are often mismanaged. At the same time, life expectancy and the infant mortality rate has recovered to what it was in the 1990s, but that also means more people in Iraq. The economy has to be diversified, but that’s unlikely to change as the government is almost solely focused upon boosting its oil sector, which will make it even more dependent upon petroleum than before. That means even more issues will arise in the future.

FOOTNOTES

1. Tyler, Patrick, “Western Health Study in Iraq Finds Child Mortality Has Nearly Tripled,” New York Times, 10/22/91

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq must cut state dependence, bank head tells AFP,” 5/23/12

Arraf, Jane, “Iraq’s Arab Spring: Protests rise against persistent poverty in oil-rich nation,” Christian Science Monitor, 5/24/11

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, 2011

Economist, “Why business is still in the dumps,” 7/1/10

Fattah, Zeiki, “Iraq’s Faltering Economy,” Sada, 2/2/12

International Monetary Fund, “Iraq: First Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement, Request for Waiver of Nonobservance of a Performance Criterion, Waiver of Applicability, and Rephasing of Access,” October 2010
- “Staff Report for the 2009 Article IV Consultation and Request for Stand-By Arrangement,” 2/16/10

Iraq Survey Group, “Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCIA on Iraq’s WMD,” 9/30/04

IRIN, “IRAQ: Health system needs years of work,” 4/4/10

Al Khafaji, Isam, “Iraq: Mixed Opportunities, Messy Outlook? (Part I: The Road To Entrapment),” Economy Watch, 2/8/12

McGeary, Johanna, “Looking Beyond Saddam,” Time, 3/10/03

O’Hanlon, Michael and Campbell, Jason, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, 11/20/08

Sterngold, James, “Another enemy looms – Iraq debt,” San Francisco Chronicle, 5/23/04

Tyler, Patrick, “Western Health Study in Iraq Finds Child Mortality Has Nearly Tripled,” New York Times, 10/22/91

Whitelaw, Kevin, “After The Fall,” U.S. News & World Report, 12/2/02

World Bank, “Interim Strategy Note For The Republic of Iraq For The Period Mid FY09-FY11,” 2/10/09