Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi managed to cap 2015 with a military achievement, the liberation of central Ramadi. But it is developments in the oil-rich southern province of Basra that will dictate his domestic political strength: the creation of the Basra Oil Company appears just a cosmetic change aimed at appeasing demands for greater local control.

The December military victory at Ramadi allowed the formal security services a moment in the sun and at least partially erased the black mark they received last May, when the Anbar provincial capital fell to militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). Mr ‘Abadi himself held a choreographed triumphal walk and flag-raising event in the city center on 29 December, the day after the area was cleared, to drive home the symbolism. (CONTINUED - 1183 WORDS)