Iraq, a nation with enormous economic potential, yet remains as one of the most devasted areas in the middle east. Iraq is an ethnically religiously, socially and culturally highly diversified country, but several decades of dictatorship has strengthened its inner divisions today.Much of the blame can be vested on the social integration that happened in the royal regime during the 1970s, the effects of which paved the way to the policies of suppression and dictatorship in the 1980s.
The war against Iran and Kuwait invasion further extended the fall of Iraq. Today, Iraq is facing identity crises among its various sectarian and ethnic groups due to lack of effective post-war plans and mainstream Arab Nationalism which paved the way to religiosity and sectarianism. In the state’s absence people had reverted to their traditional ethnic, social and sectarian groups for their protection. These local groups took law in their hands making it a source of their livelihood.
2014 witnessed an emergence of the armed Islamic State group which became the major force in the region and seized larger parts of the country. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) , Daesh , also called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since 2014, operated primarily in western Iraq and after making the desired territorial gains in Iraq, first proclaimed the establishment of a Caliphate and then conducted immense violence and torture on the people to achieve its goal, led by the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi. By November 2017, the ISIL was driven out of Iraq losing all of its major territorial holdings. Multinational military operations against the ISIL displaced at least 3.2 million Iraqis, over 1 million from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Today, the federal government in Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, is now dominated by the Shia Arab majority, marginalizing the Sunni Arabs who once formed the backbone of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The then Saddam’s regime which was characterized by the dominance of the Sunni group, after invasion has witnessed the ascendancy of the rural Shia to power in the urban hub; Baghdad, Mosul and Basra losing much of their influence.On the other hand, the Kurdish minority is having its own security and government forces are being at odds with the central government over the division of oil profits and the territorial status of Arab- Kurdish territories.
There is still a lot of chaos and uncertainty on the question of what Iraq should look like in future. Most Kurd are in favor of independence along with some Sunnis who want autonomy from the Shiite-dominated central government. At the same time, many Shiite provinces are enjoying the perks of living in oil-rich provinces and desire to live without the interference from Baghdad. On the other hand, there is a prevailing debate among the nationalists which include both Sunni and Shiite who advocate a unified Iraq with a strong central government.
At present, the political scenario in the country is that the federal government of Iraq is headed by Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi along with the coalition of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish leaders.Today, the Iraqis believe that the nation and Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi’s face a challenge of corruption which had plagued the state and its institutions ever since the former regime collapsed.
The Kurdistan Regional Government, in northern Iraq based in Ebril takes part in the federal state institutions in Baghdad, yet the Kurdish area is considered a semi- autonomous area. The tense relations between Baghdad and Ibril have risen because of Kurds’ efforts of wanting an Independent Kurdistan in 2017, but Baghdad considered the referendum illegal. This challenge however requires radical solutions.
Iraq, once was a homeland to the most ancient Ottomon Empire is now fighting its battle to gain political stability and peace with U.S. intervention being obvious. The power struggle and poor economic conditions attract the people towards the religious and sectarian groups which promise safe havens to them. Even though Iraq has the world’s largest reserves of crude oil, its political and social instability has hindered its growth and prosperity.
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