Iraq’s Shiite militias have reached the pinnacle of power and politics in recent years, in large part because of the emergence of the so-called Islamic state (IS) and the collapse of the Iraqi army but also because of the diminished capacity of the Iraqi state after more than a decade of corruption and political instability.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Iraq in late February, when the country was in its most fragile and vulnerable state and its caretaker government had been in deep hibernation since the start of mass protests in October 2019. Combined with the sharp drop of oil prices, this new blow is likely to further complicate the security, political and economic dynamics that have plagued Iraq for more than a decade.
The rebuilding of Iraq is not just a massive construction project. In the face of violent repression, the protesters that took to the streets in October demand a new political class than can dig the country out of the nightmare of the last ten years.
A dieci anni dalla guerra, l’Iraq resta un Paese instabile dilaniato dalle violenze settarie e dal terrorismo jihadista. La caduta della dittatura ha fatto riemergere le rivalità etnico-religiose tra le comunità di sciiti e sunniti e la situazione politica rimane lontana da quanto auspicato dagli Stati Uniti e dai loro alleati. Abbiamo intervistato l'ambasciatore Maurizio Melani, già ambasciatore italiano a Baghdad, per chiedere una sua opinione sugli elementi di magg
Five years of Islamic State (IS) rule across Iraq and Syria have wrecked the shared border between the two countries and created a fragile security situation in the area commonly known as “Syraq”.
This month last year, the Kuwaiti government hosted a ‘Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq’. It was attended by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, along with dozens of foreign ministers and large numbers of other government and business representatives. The timing was perfect for Iraq. The country had recently announced the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) and was enjoying an unprecedented level of optimism and all-round international good will.
After 8 years of conflict, Syria is a country in ruins.
In the summer of 2013, most commentaries on the Syrian civil war’s effect on Iraq’s Sunni population argued that the rise of Syria’s Sunnis against the government in Damascus had emboldened their co-religionists across the border, providing a morale boost to the Iraqi community that feels marginalized by a Shia-dominated Iraqi state, closely allied to Shia Iran. However, what was neglected in these assessments was the “cause and effect” relationship between the Syrian civil war and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
After four years of political and security turbulence, Iraq has now turned a new page with plenty of optimism for 2019. Back in 2014, Iraq was at the brink of failure, with the Islamic State (IS) occupying almost a third for the country, the army melting away, over three million internally displaced people seeking refuge, oil prices plummeting, Baghdad-Erbil relations at rock bottom and most Iraqis losing confidence in their ruling elite.
The most interesting evolution in Iraq’s security governance is currently represented by the peculiarity of the hybridization process characterizing the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and the vast array of non-state/quasi-state militias. Since 2014 on, hybridization in state authorities as well as in the security domain has enhanced, although representing a recurrent feature of the Iraqi system which started in the Eighties: the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, al-Hashd al-Shaabi) embody a new phase of this trend.