Thank goodness for Iraq’s census disaster

One of the silent victims of Iraq’s political paralysis has been the country’s long-delayed census. On Oct. 3, the census was postponed for the third time since 2007, when the cabinet pushed it back from Oct. 24 to Dec. 5. The main reason for the latest delay was the concern of some Iraqi politicians, neighboring ...

MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images

One of the silent victims of Iraq's political paralysis has been the country's long-delayed census. On Oct. 3, the census was postponed for the third time since 2007, when the cabinet pushed it back from Oct. 24 to Dec. 5. The main reason for the latest delay was the concern of some Iraqi politicians, neighboring states such as Turkey, and the United States that going ahead with the census now could just foment unrest in the disputed territories that border the federal Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

Given the current configuration of the census, however, a delay is not such a bad thing. If anything, Iraq's caretaker government should give serious consideration to delaying the census even further, until the new government can correct its flaws and turn it into something that will be truly useful for the whole country.

One of the silent victims of Iraq’s political paralysis has been the country’s long-delayed census. On Oct. 3, the census was postponed for the third time since 2007, when the cabinet pushed it back from Oct. 24 to Dec. 5. The main reason for the latest delay was the concern of some Iraqi politicians, neighboring states such as Turkey, and the United States that going ahead with the census now could just foment unrest in the disputed territories that border the federal Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

Given the current configuration of the census, however, a delay is not such a bad thing. If anything, Iraq’s caretaker government should give serious consideration to delaying the census even further, until the new government can correct its flaws and turn it into something that will be truly useful for the whole country.

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Joost Hiltermann is program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group.

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