May 25, 2023

From shock and awe to stability and flaws: Iraq’s post-invasion journey

Twenty years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the country is now run by its eighth government, which took power in October 2022. Despite continuous fears of implosion, the political order and the elite in Iraq have proven resilient in the face of terrorism, civil war, threats of secession, and mass protests. Europeans should now acknowledge that the informal consociational system, the party politics, the patronage networks, and the competing paramilitaries are going to be long-term features of Iraqi governance.

This moment opens new possibilities for European actors to engage with Baghdad to cooperate with the Iraqi government and Iraqi civil society.

This governance system was on ample display during incoming prime minister Mohammed al-Sudani’s first hundred days in office. He sought to please all sides in his consensus government (and arguably even those outside the government) through various crowd-pleasing measures. Instead of focusing on major reforms or challenging the status quo (something that his predecessor Mustafa al-Kadhimi tried and failed to do), Sudani’s government has prioritised infrastructure and services. Sudani is so intent on this priority that staffers in the parliament refer to his administration as “the services government”.[1]

Read the full article from the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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