On March 7th, 2010, parliamentary elections were held in Iraq. It is now 245 days later and an Iraqi government has yet to be formed. During this time Iraqi legislators have met for a grand total of twenty minutes. And yet these same legislators are still collecting lavish salaries, collectively raking in millions upon millions of dollars. All the while, the new Iraq looks to be cracking on top of a flimsy foundation. Violence has escalated to a point where locals are weary to venture out. This intimidation of the populace is mostly being carried out by Sunni extremists who are doing everything they can to thwart the formation of a new government. The inability of Iraq’s politicians to form a government is only playing into their hands.
The inability of the Iraqi government to form, coupled with the increase in violence has made even the most optimistic Iraqis wary. The poor coordination of Iraq’s security forces may be as dangerous as the attacks themselves. Many Iraqis feel unprotected by their government, and attribute the decline in security to the ineffective leadership of the Iraqi government.
Reports that these Iraqi politicians are being paid exorbitant salaries while failing to form a government has caused outrage in Iraq’s streets, where generators hum daily because of a lack of electricity. Indeed, in their current form, the salaries of Iraq’s Members of Parliament outrank even those of United Stated Congressmen, whom earn around $165,000 annually. In contrast, as the AFP reports:
Since the election results were certified in June, every deputy has been receiving a salary and allowance for 30 security guards of 22.5 million dinars (19,070 dollars) per month.
$19,070 dollars per month equals out to $228,840 per year. Granted, there are expenditures for each member’s security entourage included in the salary, but there are other expenditures that are not included in these salaries, including funds to purchase vehicles.
Many feel that the priorities of Iraq’s politicians are more centered on retaining their power and elite status than bringing any real change to Iraq. For a country trying to overcome a devastating war and the effects of a continued insurgency, there is currently little to be hopeful for. For now, Iraqis are unsure of their future, waiting and wondering when their government will work to make that future begin.