Photo: Reuters

Iraq faces sovereignty struggles amid COVID-19 pandemic

Iraq has 1,400 confirmed cases and 78 fatalities of the coronavirus; although similarly to other countries in the region, the true extent of the contagion is likely the result of a low level of daily testing for the disease.

Baghdad’s Communications and Media Commission revoked Reuters license to operate for three months and imposed a 25 million dinar fine (about 19,250 Euros or $21,000), after the London-based news agency reported that Iraqi authorities had falsified low COVID-19 figures. The ban was imposed on claims that Reuters had ‘violated the rules of media broadcast’ in the country, even though the report included a denial from an Iraqi Health Ministry spokesman

Iraq – which is embroiled in social and economic distress, as well as significant foreign interference – has recently appointed intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as Prime Minister-Designate. Kadhimi is the third candidate appointed to lead the Baghdad Central Government in just 10 weeks.

The widely perceived political independent will have to amass support from the powerful sectarian parties that dominate Iraq’s legislature in order to approve a cabinet within a month.

In a televised address to the nation, the Prime Minister-Designate urged the country’s politicians to put aside their foreign-influenced bickering for the sake of the Iraqi people. “I will offer to the parliament a cabinet as soon as possible, it will be a government serving the people, said Kadhimi, vowing, “It will be a government of services, it will serve people in deeds not in words. All Iraqi politicians without exception should bear the responsibility of supporting the new government and making it succeed. The new government should not be an isolated one. And it won’t be a government that is run behind closed-doors.”

The Iraqi Premier-Designate further warned foreign powers – namely Iran and the United States – not to exploit his nation’s deeply-rooted troubles for their respective interests; warning, “Sovereignty is a red line. We will never do a courtesy at the expense of Iraq’s sovereignty. And we won’t concede from Iraq and Iraqis’ dignity.”