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