Political Risks Remaining Elevated In 2014


BMI View: The level of political violence in Iraq continues to increase. In addition, political divisions over the adoption of a new electoral law could cause delays in parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for April 2014. We reaffirm our view that the country's political blocs will reach some form of agreement which will avoid the descent into outright civil war. We cannot however preclude a further uptick in violence or an eventual partition of the country along sectarian lines.

The level of political violence in Iraq has increased significantly over recent months. Almost 1,000 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in Iraq in September 2013 according to the United Nations. Some 887 civilians and 92 members of the Iraqi Security Forces died nationwide, with Baghdad being the worst affected province. Although the death toll was marginally lower compared to July, in which it stood at 1,057, it remained one of the highest of the past several years. Hundreds more were killed in October, bringing the toll in the first 10 months of 2013 to above 6,000. In the latest major development, ten bombings mainly targeting Shiite-majority areas of Baghdad province killed at least 41 people on October 27, while 24 died in other attacks in Iraq in the same day. Recent bombings have included targets in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, which has for years been a haven of relative stability. Five explosions at an intelligence office in the regional capital Erbil on September 29 killed at least six people, the biggest attack in the northern enclave since a truck bomb killed 19 people at the interior ministry headquarters in Erbil in 2007.

Levels of sectarian violence will remain elevated over the coming quarters in our view. The Sunni minority - comprising approximately 30% of the total population - feels increasingly sidelined by the government led by Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. After a popular protest movement which developed since the end of 2012 in predominantly Sunni provinces of the country was crushed by Baghdad, Iraq's radical Islamist insurgency has become increasingly active. Jihadist groups have also been emboldened by the ongoing sectarian war in neighbouring Syria. The radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - an umbrella organization of Iraqi insurgent groups - is growing in strength in Syria, where it can carry out attacks in both Syria and Iraq with relative impunity.

Grim Prospects For Political Stability
MENA - Short-term and Long-term Political Risk Rating, Out of 100

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This article is tagged to:
Sector: Country Risk, Agribusiness
Geography: Iraq

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