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Iraq remains a nation with tremendous potential if it can ever achieve a working level of sectarian and ethic unity and transform its potential petroleum wealth into effective economic development. It is also important to point out that Iraq has made progress in many areas since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and the departure of US forces at the end of 2001. The period since
the Iraqi election of 2010 and the departure of US forces at the end of 2011 has, however, left Iraq with deep political fissures, dangerous elements of extremism and a complex mix of challenges that now shape a growing level of violence,.

At one level, all of Iraq’s major political factions are all to blame. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has continued to consolidate his grip on power, arresting and otherwise intimidating political adversaries. At the same time, Sunni political factions have active sought to undermine him and has sometimes posed a threat. Their actions and political conflicts a have sparked a violent have helped lead to a major spike in sectarian violence across Iraq, bringing about political instability, and significant security challenges.

Iraq’s tensions between Arab and Kurd, and the central government and KRG, have not yet led to serious violence but still pose the threat they may do so. They also help limit the ability to reach key compromises and decisions on the patterns of governance and develop that can reduce violence and bring stability, and the unity and effectiveness of the security.

Iraq’s domestic divisions increasingly interact with the broader patterns of instability in the region. Iraq is caught up in the political struggles between the US, Arab states, and Iran. Iraq is a key area of focus of the competition between the US and Iran, but also between Iran and the Southern Gulf states. It is caught up in the civil conflict in Syria, and the broader struggles between Sunni and Shi’ite that now affect much of the Islamic world.

At the same time, history does tell. No assessment of Iraqi in 2013 can ignore the impact of the other factors that drive modern Iraq. These include the a long history of sectarian and ethnic discrimination and violence that took place between the US invasion, a history of violent political struggles for period and periods of authoritarianism, government abuse of power to the point of state terrorism, failures in governance and development, and the rising pressure of
population growth and other demographic factors.

The end result is that today’s challenges in politics and violence interact with a wide range of lasting and structural challenges that far too many Iraqi politicians and technocrats try to ignore:                                                                                                             



It’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki who bears the greatest blame for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq today.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's
His alienation of the Sunnis and dictatorial style of governance, are at the root of Iraq’s problems, including its latest troubles with extremist Islamic militants.

Since he took office in 2006, and especially since his reelection in 2010, Maliki has become increasingly repressive and authoritarian.

Sunnis found themselves increasingly the victims of the Shia-dominated government's security forces.

  • He has used the Iraqi security forces to suppress opponents and intimidate his political rivals.
  • Gives his dear ones key security posts.
  •  He has failed to follow through on power-sharing agreements.
  •  Refused to include prominent Sunni leaders in his government.
  • He has shown little willingness to make the compromises necessary to lead an inclusive government, and to ease a new wave of sectarian bloodletting.
  •  Strained relations with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region over oil-revenue sharing deals.
  • He met peaceful protesters in 2012, led by Sunni tribal leaders frustrated by Maliki’s policies, he responded with a crackdown: an armed assault on protest camps in Anbar province and mass arrests of Sunnis.
  • Maliki managed to alienate Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds, and empowered the Sunni militias and extremists now threatening to take over.

Islamic leaders supports-The Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Islamic Council of Iraq support him this create more tension in the regions.

Sunnis minority and inability to form government-In Iraq sunnis were in minority and Shias were in majority due to this majority Shias were able to form government . Iraq’s Sunnis refused to take part in Iraq’s first parliamentary elections and resorted to insurgency almost immediately after the U.S. invasion and fall of Saddam Hussein.

The Sunnis see political leadership and governance to be their birthright and resent the Shia interlopers.

Sunnis were unable to accept themselves under Shias because from the past both under the Ottomans and after independence Sunnis dominate the society thus it was not easy for them to be ruled under Shias.

Internal conflict- The ethnic divisions between Arab and Kurd, and disputes over petroleum resources,threaten to divide the country. The “Kurdish issue” is scarcely a new one in Iraq or the region. 

Iraq’s Kurds sought independence during the aftermath to World War I and there have been active tensions over the creation of some form of Kurdish state ever since –tensions with links to similar Kurdish desires for autonomy or independence in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. The creation of a Kurdish security zone after the Gulf War has led to the creation of a Kurdistan Regional Government (the KRG) that has practical autonomy and whose leaders – like its president Massoud Barzani -- occasionally threaten to seek full independence.
The KRG not only controls clearly Kurdish areas but dispute control of a large amount of territory from Kirkuk to Mosul along what some call Iraq’s ethnic fracture zone. The KRG is also involved in a continuing struggle over control of Iraq petroleum resources in northern Iraq and its right to exploit the resource in its own zone. There are other power struggles over the structure and funding of Kurdish (Pesh Merga) versus Iraqi forces, and the allocation of central government funds and central government controlled oil export revenues. The KRG also now faces a future where it may receive far less foreign aid and
see the central government limit the flow of these oil revenues while it jockey with the central government over the role of Turkey in the region and has taken the side of Syrian Kurds in the Syrian civil war.

Masood Barzani,the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party who dreams of an independent Kurdistan, has also done what he can to undermine the authority of the government in Baghdad, by essentially running his own economic, oil, and foreign policies.

Iraq’s Neighbour- Iraq’s Sunni neighbors, notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but also Qatar, also not support a Shia government in Baghdad thus they support Iraq’s Sunni’s by helping them.

Iraq’s Sunni neighbors have exacerbated Shia fears and made it more difficult for them to pursue a more inclusive policy vis-à-vis the Sunnis.

Iraq’s Sunni’s get  money from individual donors and tacit support from some officials in the Gulf Arab states to make Shia’s government unstable.

Conflicting U.S. policy objectives in the region have also led it to pursue policies in Iraq that have contributed to current U.S. dilemmas. The most glaring example was the U.S. courting of Sunni insurgents and tribal leaders, both of which were thus emboldened to commit acts such as attacking the Shia shrines in Samara in 2006 and frightening the Shias that the United States would again betray them as it did at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

Iraq faces a growing mix of related challenges in defining its “Arab” identify; in the de facto segregation of its Arab Shi’ite and Arab Sunni population, and in defining the role of Islam in its society and state. 

There is no clear split between Arab Sunni and Arab Shi’ite in today’s heavily urbanized Iraq, but mixed cities and towns are increasingly divided into Sunni and Shi’ite areas, the southeast is largely Shi’ite and has much of the nation’s currently producing petroleum wealth, and Iraq’s west is largely Sunni and more tribal.
The emergence of a Shi’ite dominated central government since 2010 has tended to alienate many Arab Sunnis and push the West back towards at least the toleration of extremist movements like Al Qa’ida while pushing Shi’ite areas on reliance on the Shi’ite dominated security forces and local Shi’ite security security forces. Iraq’s “Arab” identify is not only affected by the Kurdish issue, but by the increase division of Arab into Sunni and Shi’ite -- coupled to a growing polarization around more fundamentalist or extreme interpretations of Sunni Salafist and Shi’ite Twelver practices and beliefs – mirroring the
broader struggle between the majority of Islamic moderates and a minority of hardline or and some violent religious extremists.                                                                                                            
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