News from a short visit to Iraq – April/May 2011
1: The situation for some may be slowly improving. Private housing construction in Baghdad is to be seen all over. The rush hour traffic is intense.
2: But unemployment remains high in a young population. Public services remain poor, especially in electricity, water, sanitation, public transport, health and education. Lack of government revenue and administrative capacity mean that improvements will be slow.
3: There have been public protests against corruption and the shortcomings mentioned above. Key posts in Government have not been filled, leaving the Prime Minister overburdened.
4: Parliament has not yet decided on a new oil and gas law, a constitutional issues and on the future of Kirkuk and Mosul, important cities in the north.
5: Violence against Christians and other minorities has dropped off sharply in the last 3 months. The occasional bomb or rocket can still be heard.
6: Urgent issues affecting the security and sovereignty of Iraq remain to be resolved, before the remaining US forces leave at the end of 2011.
7: The Rule of law and full parliamentary democracy will take a long time to become fully established.
8: Iraq needs inward investment urgently. I can nevertheless understand that entrepreneurs may find more attractive opportunities in rapidly growing economies elsewhere