Iraq still faces the same economic challenges that contributed to the rise of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. And unless these challenges are resolved, the likelihood of future political stability is low. The extremely high level of unemployment and underemployment among Iraq’s youth, combined with massive corruption, is contributing to widespread poverty and radicalization. The Iraqi government’s efforts to deal with these challenges are hamstrung by the expectation that current low oil prices will continue for a decade or more. These obstacles will constrain state-led development efforts severely. Iraq needs to execute successfully anti-corruption and pro-youth employment strategies that draw on the experience of other states, but are crafted to meet Iraq’s unique conditions.
This article is part of a special project conducted by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, titled: “After the Caliphate: Reassessing the Jihadi Threat and Stabilizing the Fertile Crescent,” which includes a book, a thematic issue of Orbis: FPRI’s Journal of World Affairs (Summer 2018), and a series of podcasts. Each element of the project can be found here: https://www.fpri.org/research/after-the-caliphate-project/.