Monday, January 10, 2011

Iraq’s Parliament Approves Creation Of Three Vice Presidencies

On January 9, 2011 Iraq’s parliament passed a new law creating three vice presidencies. The positions will be funded from President Jalal Talabani’s office, rather than having their own budget. A member of the Kurdish Coalition said that Talabani will now have the power to select his deputies. It’s assumed that former Vice Presidents Tariq al-Hashemi of the Renewal Party, which is part of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement, and Adel Abdul Mahdi of the Iraqi National Coalition’s Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) will retain their positions. Who will be the third vice president is still up in the air. As reported before, the Turkmen Front from the National Movement is demanding that they receive the office. Both Kurdish President Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President Talabani have voiced support for this idea, so it may be just a matter of finding the right politician to fill the spot.

Unlike previous governments, the president and vice presidents will have no powers this time around. In 2004 the outgoing Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) created the three person Presidential Council to represent Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. Mahdi, Hashemi, and Talabani filled those slots respectively. Each member had veto power over any legislation. The Council has now been dissolved, and the presidency will revert to a symbolic head of state as is common in many other countries. The vice presidents are completely unnecessary however, and are simply being created to maintain the ethnosectarian quota system within the new government, and reward all the parties in the national unity coalition. The third presidency specifically is being created just to give the image that a minority is in a leading position in Iraq. This is part of the government inflation process that has gone on since Maliki won his second term. Probably the best that can be said about this situation is that each vice president isn’t going to have their own independent budget, which would be an added cost to the state, but will rather be funded from existing monies allotted for Talabani.


Ali, Saman, “Parliament voted for 1-3 presidential vices,” AK News, 1/9/11

Alsumaria, "Iraq Parliament to approve 3 Vice Presidents," 1/10/11

Collier, Robert, “Iraqi constitution in danger of being undone by factions,” San Francisco Chronicle, 3/9/04

Al-Ziyadi, Kholud, “Parliament passes bill permitting 3 Vice Presidents,” AK News, 1/9/11


bb said...

Historic moment in Iraq the other day when the Sec Gen of the Arab League was ceremonially welcomed in the parliament by reps of the Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish, Christian communities plus Tawafuq and Gorran. A happening televised live in Iraq and no doubt to arab world via AlJ.

Must have been quite a change from the last time the Arab League was in that country. Also, being welcomed by a democratically elected parliament with a free media in an Arab League member country must have been a novel experience for Amr Musa.

And rather different from the old days when AL Sec Gens had to go to Baghdad to be bullied by the regime.

Those who are still mourning the passing of one-party Baath rule in Iraq continue to harp on about "ethno-sectarianism" (ie representative government) but it seems the Iraqis are powering ahead into the 21st century, Joel?

Michael C said...

Joel just wanted to say that my co-blogger and I added your blog to our blogroll. I would email you but your email isn't on here.

I work in Military Intelligence and I believe your blog is more valuable than 98% of the reports I read, its that good.

Michael C (info at

Joel Wing said...


Sorry I'm still cynical about Iraq.

On the positive side, I see pictures of everyday life in Iraq and I'm just really happy to see people going about their everyday lives, shops are opening, etc. Despite all the talk about outside influence/interference, I still believe Iraqis can determine their future. That's a tremendous change from the war times that were going on before.

Bigger picture however I have major questions about whether Iraq can overcome its structural problems and become a prosperous and really free society.

For example, will Iraq overcome the oil curse? Will it break the state-hold over the economy? Will it cut down on the corruption? Will it be able to reduce the poverty and joblessness? Will it ever have actual rule of law? Will it end the torture and abuse? Will its institutions become strong? etc.

You can be happy about the number of media outlets in the country and the fact that they have elections in the middle of a bunch of autocracies and dictatorships. Then you look at how it compares to those nations in terms of humanitarian and economic indicators and Iraq is nearly at the bottom in almost everything. Is that a success and something that can be sustained? I don't know.

Joel Wing said...


Thanks so much for the praise. I actually saw your write up about Musings on your blog and was going to leave a comment, but I was caught up in a bunch of work. You probably know how that goes.

bb said...

Do you have any up to date info on how Iraq's GDP is growing compared to its neighbours? Also comparison on inflation and unemployment compared to neighbours?

Joel Wing said...


Here are some old articles I have comparing Iraq and its neighbors.

bb said...

Thanks j.

Joel Wing said...

I would really like to find some more up to date numbers to do a better comparison and see whether Iraq has improved with better security vis a vis the region. Unfortunately don't have the time for that during the school year so have to wait for the summer when I can do more research.

bb said...

In terms of GDP would be worth looking at.

Shows that since 2007 Iraq's GDP has been growing much faster than any of its neighbours, including the gulf states. As I commented on that interesting UN report on the provinces, figures tell us very little about Iraq unless one has a comparison to make on the previous years. Same applies to the Arab League report.

Has its economy been improving since the defeat of insurgency and the consequent political stability there? Answer appears to be yes. It's not all bad news, Joel!

Joel Wing said...


Iraq's gdp is basically determined by its oil industry. When the oil industry expands and prices go up, gdp expands, when the world recession hit and prices collapsed, gdp slowed down. Now that prices are increasing again and Iraq signed all those oil deals in 2009 gdp is expected to go back up.

Also, the oil industry barely trickles down to the general public. It only employs 1-2% of the population, and services which the revenue is suppose to support are notoriously bad. That's why I don't think it's a good indicator for Iraq.

This is from an Oct. 2010 IMF report on Iraq

2007 $57.0 bil
2008 $86.5 bil
2009 $65.8 bil
2010 $84.1 bil est
2011 $92.9 bil est
2012 $109.2 bil est

bb said...

It seems you didn't read the link?

As you say: " When the oil industry expands and prices go up, gdp expands, when the world recession hit and prices collapsed, gdp slowed down."

This is true, of course,of ALL the oil producing countries, not just Iraq.

So if you had read the link you would have seen how the GDP of all the oil countries dropped sharply in 2009 from the highs of 2008, AND that Iraq's growth rate was well ahead of all but one.

Real GDPs O9: Bahrein 3.1; Oman 2; Kuwait -4.6; Libya -0.7; UAE -2.7Saudi Arabia 0.1%; Iran 1.5.

By contrast Iraq's real GDP in 09 was 4.5%. It only lost 3.3% on the previous year compared with the others average loss of 7%. The only oil state in the region that outstripped it (and all the others) was Qatar (9.5).

On essential services, to get an idea of the steady upwards trajectory since 2007 on improvement of availability of electricity, potable water, fuel etc in Iraq, it is worth having a look at the latest (Nov '10) Iraq Index at Brookings.

To re-iterate: to fairly judge if Iraq is going forwards or backwards you have to look at comparisons, using 2007 as the benchmark and not just quote stats in isolation.

Joel Wing said...


The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) points out that Iraq's GDP is driven by oil revenues and government spending, which dominates the economy. That could account for its differences from other countries in the region.

2004: GDP $25.77 bil, oil revenue $16.52 bil, budget $33.39 bil
2005: GDP $31.38 bil, oil revenues $21.86 bil, budget $35.99 bil
2006: GDP $45.08 bil, oil revenues $28.13 bil, budget $32.10 bil
2007: GDP $56.98 bil, oil revenues $35.88 bil, budget $41.05 bil
2008: GDP $86.53 bil, oil revenues $58.79 bil, budget $72.18 bil
2009: GDP $65.84 bil, oil revenues $37.02 bil, budget $56.81 bil
2010: GDP $84.14 bil, oil revenues $47.47 bil, budget $72.36 bil

In terms of the services you mentioned.

Electricity has reached a post-2003 high in production, but so has demand.

2nd quarter 07: peak prod. 4,230 megawatts per day
- Peak demand 8,120 megawatts per day

3rd quarter 10: avg. prod. 6,540 megawatts per day
- Avg. demand 12,605 megawatts per day

Gas production has not markedly increased from 2004-2010

2004: approx 10 mil lit day
2010: little more than 10 mil lit day

Liquid gas production has increased 2004-2010

2004: 2,000 metric tons day
2010: approx. 2,500 metric tons day

Kerosene production in 2010 is below 2004 levels

2004: just under 8 mil lit day
2010: 6 mil lit day

Diesel production has increased

2004: 13 mil lit day
2010: 15 mil lit day

The figures are from the July 07 & Oct. 2010 SIGIR report

What do Iraqis think about their services? They're not happy.

June 2010 poll

What is the biggest problem facing Iraq?
Basic services 66%
Security 24%
Unemployment 8%

Dec. 09 results
Security 43%
Services 23%
Unemployment 11%

Has the situation gotten better or worse over the last year:
Electricity: 18% better, 60% worse
Basic services (water, sewage, etc.): 23% better, 52% worse