The invasion of Iraq in 2003 inaugurated a new phase, marked by fierce sectarian division, which strongly questioned the pillars on which the Iraqi ‘national’ community was built. Examining the dynamics and factors that led to these consequences will help us to understand these events within their historical context rather than viewing them as part of an endless phenomenon. The so-called ‘sectarian conflict’ in Iraq was not incited by religious differences. It was a clash largely shaped along sectarian lines because of the lack of inter-communal communication and effective means of mediation. The paper focuses on the internal dynamics that led to heightened sectarianism in Iraq, starting with the historical background of political sectarianism in the first part, followed by inter-communal relations in post-2003 Iraq in the second part and concluding in the third part with recent dynamics.
Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee, Contributor to al-Monitor and Foreign Affairs and author of Imagining the Nation: Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-political Conflict in Iraq