Is There Hope for Iraq?
The defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Baghdad will offer a new opportunity to build the state to correct mistakes after the expulsion of Saddam Hussein in 2003. While Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds pursue their own interests, a serious effort Towards understanding the community is the key to progress.
Iraq’s search for a stable and inclusive political system remains difficult fourteen years after Saddam Hussein’s fall.
The end of thirty-five years of Baath Party rule has seen the country from one crisis and conflict to another, with no clear path to a peaceful future.
The imminent military defeat of the extremist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will be a positive thing for many Iraqis.
But it also opens up a new set of challenges that complicate the country’s prospects as Iraqis head to parliamentary elections in 2018.
It should be noted that Iraqis resisted a complete breakdown of their countries and persevered through the 2003 US invasion that led to the fall of Saddam, a total civil war from 2006 to 2007, and the resumption of much of western Iraq Iraq in 2014 by ISIS.
Violence in the past fourteen years has cost some 268,000 Iraqis, including some 200,000 civilians. The resilience of a society that has learned to survive often goes unnoticed in such politics agitation, destruction and death.
Iraq post-Saddam has managed to write a new constitution and has witnessed four rounds of national elections, four peaceful transfers of power and three constitutional governments in which Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds were properly represented.
Iraq can now claim a flourishing civil society, thriving media and civil liberties and political expanded. By Middle Eastern standards, these are not small achievements.
Unfortunately, a consolidated community struggle continues to divide Iraq and halt the development of a fully democratic system.
Negotiation for power and position among Iraqi Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish communities was a feature of Iraqi politics since Iraq’s independence from Ottoman rule in 1920.
And until the fall of Saddam’s regime, the Sunni minority, which represents about 20% of the population, dominated by the Shiite majority (60%) and the Kurds (20%) in a struggle for control of Iraq.
This creates a sense of privilege among Sunnis and resentment by Shiites and Kurds. Almost all the leaders who ruled Iraq, including Saddam, paid service to an included state, but favored their own tribe and sect to create a curtain of loyalty and total security.
The chaos that Iraq has had shortly after Saddam’s fall reflects poor planning by Washington’s war planners as well as the fragility of state institutions under Saddam.
In the face of the collapse of the Iraqi state, US and Iraqi postwar planners have designed a multi-faith federal system that has strengthened communal divisions.
Iraqi state institutions and the middle class were essential for the recovery and reconstruction of Iraq.
But both have been weakened by Iraq’s commitment to many long wars and sanctions and the international isolation that followed Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait and Iraq’s subsequent military defeat in Operation Desert Storm. In 2003, regime change has revealed a serious disagreement among Iraqi communal groups largely repressed by the Baathist dictatorship.