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After Protests Turn Violent, Iraqi Kurdish Stop Worshipping Their Military | Niqash, Jan 4, 2018
Once Iraqi Kurdish soldiers were only seen as heroes who protected the Kurdish people from external enemies. But after recent protests that saw soldiers turn on demonstrators, that is changing.
KRG  KDP  PUK  repression  protests  public_opinion 
11 weeks ago by elizrael
Authoritarian Nostalgia Among Iraqi Youth: Roots and Repercussions - War on the Rocks, July 25, 2018
A common refrain these days is that Iraq “needs a strong leader like Saddam.” During my time in the country, I heard these sentiments expressed by teenagers and twenty-somethings who were, at most, elementary school students during the Ba’athist era. These observations, though anecdotal, are corroborated by survey projects. Both the Arab Barometer and the Shi’a pilgrims survey—which was conducted by MIT’s Fotini Christia, Elizabeth Dekeyser and Dean Knox and encompassed a broader sample of Shi’a Iraqis –have similarly documented a feeling among young Iraqis that the country isn’t meant to be democratically governed. The Arab Barometer finds that “…most Iraqis are not perfectly convinced of the suitability of democracy for their country.” Relatedly, my observations and those in the Shi’a pilgrims survey indicate that even the Shi’a – a group Saddam had particularly targeted and who arguably are the “winners” of the post-2003 order – are expressing these sentiments of democratic dissatisfaction and authoritarian nostalgia.

Iraqi youth have created two separate false dichotomies. First, they seem to think that if their present-day political leaders are “bad,” then it must mean Saddam was “good” or vice-versa. Second, they believe there is a trade-off between stability and democracy and that Iraqis are uniquely unsuited to the latter. These beliefs reflect a lack of engagement in and understanding of democracy.

Beyond their aspirations to regional power, Iraqi youth are equally, if not more, interested in improving their economic prospects. Popular narratives of public employment opportunities, better educational standards and the provision of public services under Saddam neglect to mention that salaries were meager and public service provision prioritized Baghdad at the expense of other provinces. Unlike previous generations who had to contend with the immense brutality of Saddam’s regime, youth can afford to imagine the past in much rosier terms. In the words of a young man from Kerbala, “What did Saddam actually ever do to us?” Born in 2000, his only memories are of post-Ba’athist Iraq. Like his peers who are reeling from the aftershocks of the Arab Spring across the Middle East, he is willing to sacrifice freedom for stability and a job.
Shia  authoritarian_regime  Iraq  corruption  youth  Saddam_Hussein  polls  public_opinion 
11 weeks ago by elizrael

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