Iraqi Middle Class
The Iraqi middle class can be defined in terms of economic situation, educational statues, or political power. For the purposes of this paper they will be defined according to the economic statues. The middle class is usually defined by the group of people who are not wealthy or poor, they mange to get life’s necessities and a bit more and they don’t starve during hard times.
The middle class in the Middle-East region has a big influence because this class is big and it is bigger than the two classes of the wealthy and the poor. I know it looks strange, most people think that the Middle East has more poor people, but this is not the real case.
As for Iraq, the middle-class didn’t actually exist before. In the 1960’s the oil boom started and people thought that Iraq would emerge a new middle-class, yet soon enough these dreams vanished because of the policies the government adopted. The economic policies the government adopted were social and nationalized most of the factories. As a result, no middle class emerged; there were poor people and extremely rich people.
The case changed during the 1970’s when the government recognized that socialism is not the best approach to increase GDP. The policies changed and there was a rising middle class between the 1970’s and the 1990’s. In that period of time the country GDP reached $3000. During this period the country witnessed 8 years of war, the Iraqi-Iranian war, yet due to the oil boom the country kept generating money and the middle class prospered.
The prosperity of the middle class didn’t last for long. The dictator Sadam Hussien invaded Kuwait; the war wasn’t the only issue but the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq afterwards affected the whole country’s economy.
During the sanctions Iraq couldn’t import anything; it had to totally depend on itself. Iraq is a developing country and there was no way it can sustain by itself. As a result the GDP dropped to $715.
During this period of time, Iraq’s middle class shrank. First of all, many of the middle class people who were merchants lost their jobs because of the sanctions. Second, most of the middle class people left the country because they didn’t see any improvements coming on the way. Third, high inflation due to the sanctions means the money is worth less and as a result the money the middle class has is not worth much anymore. As a result the middle class shrank and kept shrinking till 2003.
The middle class is important for any country because, first middle class people drive political change. Lately, the Arab spring in the MENA region was driven by the middle class. Second, the middle class represents the intellectuals who work as engineers, programmers and so on; these people drive the labor improvement of the country. Third, the middle class is the one that presents the new wealthy class. Due to the shrinking of Iraq’s middle-class during the 1990s many of these benefits are omitted.
The situation changed after 2003. The middle class got into life again. This was because of the reforms the new government. The salaries of the employees increased, besides that the sanctions were removed and people can trade again. Adding to that the increasing investment in oil, which lead to hiring more Iraqi people by foreign companies and also generating more profit to the country. So the positive effects of the new middle class started appearing in 10 years period.
This is all optimistic, yet the problem is this new middle class is dependent on the government, this will hinder their ability for political change because they get paid from the government. Researches say that Iraq has a long way to make the middle class more independent on the government and as a result more powerful.
The new Iraqi middle class is necessary and an integral of the country’s reform, yet more attention to developing this class and providing more opportunities is important to strengthen the political and economical spheres of this country.