The rise of narratives of disinformation in the Iraqi public sphere is threatening to destabilise an already fragile political system. Discourse and narratives are being manipulated by powerful elites who are banking on declining trust in the government and official institutions to aid the spread of false information. Alternative voices and opinions, from activists to journalists and human rights defenders, are also being targeted through metanarratives which serve to discredit their actions and intentions. In the specific context of Iraq, where mainstream media lack the capacity and will for verification, these narratives – emerging on social media platforms – are now informing media content and debates.
This paper examines the key narratives of disinformation that are prevalent in Iraqi media. It provides an analysis of the messages, agents, intentions and impact of the spread of disinformation. Focusing particularly on the period during which planned national elections were postponed, it identifies narratives of dis-information which emerged during that time. I argue that, due to the overriding partisan and unprofessional conditions for the media and the challenging political context of Iraq, the lines between partisan information and disinformation have become blurred.