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Oil unions and democracy in post-Saddam Iraq

conference contribution
posted on 01.01.2012, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
Since the invasion of 2003, a complex array of political, religious and ethno-sectarian factions have formed civil society movements; uncensored news has been consumed across the nation; ordinary citizens have taken to the streets to protest key government decisions; and various local councils have been formed, deliberating on key decisions facing their immediate communities. Given this context, this paper focuses on the specific case of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), Iraq’s largest and most powerful independent workers union. The IFOU has repeatedly taken the Iraqi government to task over their poor pay and the dangerous nature of their work, as well as the government’s initial kowtowing to US plans to privatise the entire Iraqi oil sector. To do this, the IFOU have utilised a variety of very democratic mechanisms including peaceful strikes and protests, media campaigns and political lobbying. Such moves have met with mixed results in Baghdad – at times the central government has pandered to the requests of IFOU, but it has also gone as far as issuing arrest warrants for its senior members. The IFOU therefore serve as an interesting example of public power in Iraq and may well pose one of the greatest challenges to rising authoritarianism there.



Australasian Political Studies Association. Conference (2012 : Hobart, Tas.)


718 - 735


Australasian Political Studies Association


Hobart, Tas.

Place of publication

[Hobart, Tas.]

Start date


End date





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Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2012, Australasian Political Studies Association


R Eccleston, N Sageman, F Gray

Title of proceedings

APSA 2012 : The Refereed Proceedings of the 2012 Australian Political Studies Association Conference

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