The New York Times: Iraq is suffering at all levels due to declining oil revenues and “Corona”
The American New York Times published a report on the situation in Iraq, while noting that this country is suffering economically, politically, security and health.
According to the newspaper, “Iraq suffers on almost all levels, after declining oil revenues, the main source of government revenue, the failure to form a government since the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last November, the outbreak of the Corona virus and the government’s failure to obtain material assistance to combat the virus.”
He added that “the imposition of a curfew to try to combat the outbreak of the virus, led to the closure of shops, and the loss of most non-governmental employees for their jobs.”
On the security side, the newspaper stated that “Iranian-backed armed groups are still launching regular attacks on American forces, the last of which was last Thursday when two rockets landed near the US embassy in the Green Zone, threatening to further draw Iraq into an American-Iranian conflict.”
The worst days
For his part, Riyad Al-Shehan, 56, a retired military man, told the newspaper, “This is the worst day we lived in Iraq. I lived the Iran-Iraq war, the uprising, Saddam Hussein, but these days are worse.”
The newspaper pointed out that “the Iraqi authorities announced the registration of 547 confirmed cases of coronavirus until Sunday, but they are carrying out very limited tests,” stressing that “the true number is several times greater.”
In turn, the economist Bassem Antoine, a consultant to former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, stressed that “what makes the situation grim in Iraq is that the mix of crises that he suffers has virtually eliminated the entire economy.”
He added, “The current economic situation is worse than what we saw before because all productive sectors have been suspended. We are witnessing almost complete paralysis in economic life. There is no industry, no tourism, no transportation, and agriculture is affected to some extent.”
Antoine pointed out that “Iraq’s reserves amount to 62 billion dollars, which the International Monetary Fund considers insufficient.”
The collapse of oil prices
During the past weeks, the suffering of the Iraqi economy increased after the drop in oil prices to less than half due to the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The price of a barrel became about 30 countries, instead of 60 dollars at the end of last December.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, stressed that “the drop in prices dealt a severe blow to the oil-dependent economies, but the stronger blow will be to Iraq due to the crises that it is suffering.”
He added that “Iraq is the most affected country, because it does not have financial reserves and because 90 percent of its revenues come from oil, and all these economic pressures come in a very tense political environment already.”
Meanwhile, Syed Jayashi, a member of the National Security Council, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Coronary Combating Virus Committee, stressed that “the government created a fund for donations to help it during this period, and that it raised less than $ 50 million,” noting that “the government is currently experiencing a deficit.” Monthly just over $ 2 billion in current expenditures. ” The
The American newspaper pointed out that “the private sector in Iraq is limited, and has been subjected to a heavy blow due to the imposition of curfews for 24 hours after the outbreak of the Corona virus, and the extension of the ban until April 11.”
“Construction workers, itinerant vendors, and taxi drivers have been forced to stay in their homes, due to the embargo, which has exacerbated their suffering, because most of them live on what they earn daily, have no savings and they may soon be on the brink of hunger,” she added.
“It is difficult to say how long such a huge economic pain can be tolerated, but it is particularly difficult in the absence of political leadership,” Iraqis told the newspaper.
Iraq was already facing the worst political crisis in years before the virus spread and oil prices fell. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets since last October demanding a new government, isolating the ruling political class and ending Iranian influence.
Hassan Ali, 20, said an Iraqi youth who was visiting a religious shrine despite urging him to stay at home, said he “refuses to warn the government because Iraq does not have a government.”
“The government is very weak, it is very tired, they have no solution to crises, nor a solution for young people who have no jobs, no one can rely on the government.”
It is reported that in mid-March, the Minister of Health, Jaafar Sadiq Allawi, said that he would need $ 150 million a month to purchase the equipment he needed to combat the virus, but he only collected a small portion of this amount, amid warnings about the worsening of the Corona virus crisis in Iraq in the coming weeks. Source