Abstract Historically, Iraq stands out as one of the cultural, religious and political centres of the Middle East, a leading country which has constantly exerted a relevant impact on the regional system. However, after years of wars and sanctions and, most recently, the Iraqi Freedom military operation, Iraq crumbled into a difficult period of transition which culminated in the civil war between 2005 and 2006. In 2011, the restoration of its full sovereignty opened up a new phase in this process of transition towards a new internal balance of power. At the same time, Iraq’s government regained the capacity to determine its foreign policy. This contribution aims to give an overview of the recent developments in Iraq’s efforts to reposition itself in the international and regional system, detailing the ratio of Iraqi foreign policy with a specific focus on the relationship between Baghdad, Tehran, Riyadh and Ankara. Paolo Maggiolini, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue.
Abstract The paper aims to delineate the evolution of the Iraqi socio-political scenario after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the end of the Coalition Provisional Authority experience. In doing so the research attempts to pinpoint key actors in the Iraqi political system and the degree of popular support they were able to muster both on the local (2005, 2010 and 2013 provincial elections) and national (January -December 2005 and 2010 voting) levels. The final part of the paper examines the political dynamics that emerged during al-Maliki’s second term. Particular attention has been given to the heightening political infighting seen since the withdrawal of US troops in December 2011 and to the apparent fragmentation of the Iraqi political arena attested to by the results of the recent provincial elections.
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 ‘sectarian’ because rooted only in different religious doctrines. 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
A variety of indicators at the political and military level explain Iraq’s deteriorating security situation in 2013. First, in terms of the violent physical conflict, the resurgence of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and its bombing campaign has reached a level unprecedented since the 2006-2008 sectarian conflict, and was highlighted by the recent raids on the Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons. Second, armed clashes between the Iraqi security forces and Arab Sunni protestors have led to calls to reactivate Arab Sunni militias. Third, in the face of these threats, both the regular armed forces and the intelligence agencies remain divided, with various units either reporting directly to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Fourth, the security forces suffer from the problem of divided loyalties, where members use the coercive arms of the state to pursue the interests of militias, such as the Shi’a Badr Corps, Muqtada’s Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the Arab Sunni Reawakening militias, or the Peshmerga forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Assistant Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos.