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Iraq's faltering economy threatens its security gains

Iraq has achieved notable security and political progress as a result of the recent military surge, says Frank R. Gunter, associate professor of economics, but its economic future looks bleak.

Writing in the op-ed pages of The New York Times on Monday, Nov. 16, Gunter said a sharp rise in unemployment, especially among younger workers, has resulted from falling oil prices, corruption and an economic environment that is hostile to private enterprise.

Without “fundamental changes,” he warns, this economic instability will jeopardize the “political and security progress made at such great cost in Iraqi and U.S. blood and treasure.”

Gunter served as senior civilian economics adviser to the Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) at Camp Victory from July 2008 to July 2009. He was responsible for briefing MNC-I’s commanding generals on issues related to Iraq’s economic development, including the impact of corruption, oil prices, state-owned enterprises and budget decisions.

From November 2005 to May 2006, Gunter served as military chief of economics to the Multinational Force-Iraq in Baghdad. He has also been a consultant to the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Navy and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Gunter’s op-ed column, “Liberate Iraq’s Economy,” can be found here.

 

 
Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2009
 
 
Agriculture accounts for a significant portion of Iraq’s private-sector employment, says Gunter. In addition to olives, wheat, rye, barley, vegetables and mushrooms are also raised.
 
 
A carp farm in southern Iraq. Water, says Gunter, is relatively abundant in Iraq and rivals oil in its importance to the country’s economy.
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