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Will COVID-19 Defeat Iraq’s Muhasasa Ta’ifia?

Will COVID-19 Defeat Iraq’s Muhasasa Ta’ifia?

Date and time: April 30, 2 to 3 pm British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Register here.

Speaker: Ahmed Tabaqchali, chief investment officer, Asia Frontier Capital Iraq Fund; adjunct assistant professor, American University of Iraq Sulaimani

Moderator: Renad Mansour, senior research fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Control of oil rents underpins Iraq’s post-2003 political order. This political order, known as Muhasasa Ta’ifia (ethno-sectarian apportionment), features an elite bargain inclusive of all major ethnic and sect-based political groups. It has enabled the state’s continuity and apparent stability through multiple crises, including the 2008 financial crisis, the 2014 oil crisis, and the war with ISIS.

In a recent article, Ahmed Tabaqchali examines how the crash in oil rents, brought about by COVID-19’s disruption of the world economy, exposes the structural inconsistencies and inherent contradictions of the Muhasasa Tai’fia system. The article argues that the current Iraqi political elite is ill-equipped to resolve the multi-faceted challenge facing the country because of its increasing fragmentation and the erosion of its legitimacy, advanced institutional decay and fundamentally different oil dynamics.

In this webinar, part of the Chatham House project on the future of the state in the Middle East and North Africa, the article’s author will discuss the deficiencies of the Muhasasa Ta’ifia system and will offer his insight into the future of this governance model in the context of a worsening economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and existing demographic pressures.

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