Brief of the Annual Report of the Board of Trustees,
Introduced to the 9th Conference of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association (IAA)
This report introduces an analysis of the current situation in Iraq, the advancement of the IAA’s engagement, and strategic plans for
Overview of the General Situation in Iraq
Generally, the Iraqi people were optimistic when the new Iraqi government announced that it would reform its performance and responded positively to the widespread demonstrations in July 2015. The government announced a package of government and parliamentary reforms, which included reducing the number of ministries and terminating the posts of Vice Prime Ministers, reducing the vast numbers of bodyguards for influential and senior government staff, having some military and security senior officers step down, and proposing to reopen past and current files of corruption under the supervision of a supreme committee. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted by a majority to accept the report of the Investigating Committee about the fall of Mosul City, and passed a few laws, including the Labour Law, the Law of Political Parties, and the Law of the Iraqi Media Network.
Despite government and parliamentary decisions to adopt standards of competence and integrity in the nomination of candidates for senior positions in state institutions and to move away from relying on party affiliations and sectarian standards, the actions taken were indefinite, unprofessional, and lacking transparency; some of them were also unconstitutional and illegal, as in the case of the Vice President’s dismissal. Also unconstitutional and illegal were the steps taken to improve electrical services, some anti-corruption measures, and efforts at economic and financial reform, which remain mere promises.
In light of the above-mentioned facts, the overall situation in Iraq remains as follows:
- Economic recession continues due to the large fiscal deficit in the state budget arising from lower oil prices, corruption, waste of public revenue, and massive spending on military needs. Financial mismanagement led to the halt of investment projects. It seems that the situation in Iraq will be complicated; the government may not have the capacity to cover its operating budget and pay the salaries of the public staff.
- Combating the terrorist groups of ISIS still persists on various fronts, resulting in the liberation of several districts in Salahadeen; unfortunately, these efforts have caused the fall of many martyrs, especially volunteers of the Popular Mobilization Forces and unarmed civilians. Obviously, international and regional military interventions have resulted in victories over ISIS; however, they have also fuelled frictions among Iraqi political powers and their counterparts in the militia groups. Such frictions could generate sharper disputes at any time in the future; these groups utilize young men who are driven by the culture of violence and intolerance.
- The security situation remains fragile; incidents of kidnapping, killing, and threats from armed gangs against the unarmed civilians are increasing. Fighting among armed clans continues, since the security authorities cannot stop it and the judicial system is quite weak.
- The ruling political parties are hostile to each other due to sectarian, political, and ethnic divisions. They are in conflict about benefits and privileges for their senior representatives, ignoring their duties to serve the civilians’ interests, to ensure security, and to uphold the rule of law.
- Iraq continues to suffer from scarcity and the degradation of basic services to meet the population’s needs (especially for the three million internally displaced people, IDP), the dominance of tribal law, and the supremacy of religious fatwas to solve all types of conflicts. These issues have led to the increasing marginalization of women’s status and have negatively impacted the social fabric, strengthened old social practices, protected GBV perpetrators, and created new problematic phenomena, including sex and human trafficking, early marriage without court approval, and an increase in the number of “honour crimes”.
- Minority-based migration out of Iraq has increased remarkably, especially among Christians and Yazidis, followed by the uncontrolled, astronomical numbers of young graduate and skilled people fleeing to Europe due to the loss of hope for any improvement in Iraq’s economic and security situations; this pattern of migration will affect Iraq’s demographic systems and will have negative consequences for the nation’s scientific, economic, and cultural life.
Since July 2015, demonstrations have spread through most provinces, where tens of thousands of people, mostly youth, have switched to continuous peaceful demonstrations, carrying banners to fight corruption and present senior corruptors to justice, to end sectarian and party quotas, to reform and build a civil state, to seek judicial reform, and to obtain public services and ensure that government provides water and electricity.
The Supreme Shia religious authority has adopted a positive attitude to the demonstrations and has brought attention to the people’s needs, calling for the government to speed up the process of reform. It has also called for a civil government, sought to bridge the gaps between its systems and civil society organizations (CSOs), built communication channels with leaders of the demonstrations, and helped to generate positive momentum in the popular movement towards the process of a comprehensive reform of government building and policy making. It has also improved the relationships among the decision-makers, including the House of Representatives and Civil Society groups.
That the government has allowed popular demonstrations and has told the security authorities to respect the participants in these demonstrations shows that the situation has significantly improved. However, some violent responses have been reported against the peaceful demonstrations, including assassinations, kidnappings, arrests and interrogations, and death threats to a number of the protesters, activists, and journalists. Therefore, this underscores the need for cooperative relationships among leaderships of the demonstrations, activists, and civil society organizations; such relationships should improve the results of the popular demonstrations calling for better governmental and judicial reformations
Iraqi Al Amal Association activities
The IAA’s work and activities have remained distinguished; it continues its monitoring of the hot issues, for whom the IAA advocates and whom it seeks to empower, and engagement at many levels — including local communities and CSOs, as well as strengthening cooperative relationships with the parliament and some senior staff within government ministries, INGOs [international non-governmental organisations], and donors. For instance, the IAA participated actively within the Civil Initiative to guarantee a preliminary agreement with the Parliament concerning the “Diversity Protection Law”, introducing amendments to the “Protection from Domestic Violence Law” and the “Political Parties Law”.
In May 2015, in Erbil, the IAA held the Regional Women’s Security Forum for the MENA region about SCR 1325. After this, it formed a cooperative relationship with the Gender Unit at UNAMI to hold the National Conference in Erbil in August 2015, to empower women combating terrorism and violent extremism. The Ministry of Women (before its dissolution) also invited the IAA to participate in drawing the map for the emergency plan for implementing SCR 1325. The IAA also remains active within the National Committee for the Population’s Policies.
Further, the IAA addressed a letter to the General Secretary of the UN and the Security Council members, in the name of the Iraqi Women’s Network and the Civil Initiative, raising a number of issues that should be taken into consideration upon renewing the UNAMI’s mandate for the upcoming year. Actually, the new SCR 2233/2015 incorporated some points raised in this letter.
The IAA sponsored the research and analysis produced by Alaa Muatasim Ali on ‘Security, Religion, and Gender in Ninawa City, who also conducted a similar research project on the same topic in Anbar City last year. The IAA issued a booklet, “Views on Jaafari Personal Law Project,” as part of its campaign to expose how this law’s goals and details would affect women’s rights and society.
Our colleague Ms. Hanaa Edwar, invited to participate in various significant international forums on behalf of the IAA, has travelled to Tunisia, Brussels, Chile, Rome, Japan, Salvador, New York, and Geneva; finally, she joined the International Advisory Committee of the UNDP. Mr. Jamal Al Jawahiri also participated in several other international and regional conferences; he introduced a presentation on the Legal Frame of Civil Society Organizations in a conference in Tunisia and, in Beirut, made a presentation on Transparency and Accountability. Ms. Surood Mohammed Falih went to Holland to participate in the International Forum for Women Leaders, which dealt with SCR 1325. Other members, including Vivian Alaa and Elham Maki, participated in training courses and workshops in various regions, such as Beirut and South Africa, about project management, women’s political status in MENA, social media networking, and human trafficking.
Organizational and administrative status of the IAA:
Complying with the new administrative restructuring and the decisions of the 8th conference, the IAA Board of Trustees appointed Mr. Jamal Al-Jawahiri as the Executive Director to regulate the administrative work of the organization. The IAA will expand its membership and volunteer base, as the IAA’s engagement has expanded rapidly. The IAA office in Karbala Governorate was shut down due to lack of funding from international donors.
It is important to note that IAA’s expanded consultative meeting, held last August in Erbil Governorate, included a thorough analysis of and discussion about the current political facts and their impact on the civil society in Iraq and the region. The meeting focussed on the concept of human security and the risks threatening our communities’ cohesion in Iraq. It discussed the IAA’s role and the challenges ahead, reviewed the IAA’s strategic plans, and confirmed the IAA’s determination to prioritize tasks and accomplish programs that are commensurate with the current stage. It also discussed topics related to cadres, internal and external communication strategies, and media.
In light of the above, the IAA has organized its priorities, challenges, and tasks as follows:
- Pay extensive attention to the IDPs degrading situations and protection of diversities;
- Empower youth and women within the peacebuilding and security process, promoting a human rights culture, ensuring gender-based justice, a culture of tolerance, and citizenship rights;
- Activate the role of CSOs in achieving political reforms and building a civil state;
- Finalize the organizational structure of the IAA and increase our focus on areas of: human resource systems, media, archiving, the financial system, and expanding membership of the IAA;
- Implement the Social Security Law for IAA’s staff and workers;
- Register IAA in an advisory capacity with the UN Economic and Social Council.