Iraq

Iraq has been successively ravaged by the 1980-1988 war with Iran, crippling sanctions after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, internal conflict after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, and the transnational jihadists of Islamic State after 2014. Its multiple challenges further include sectarian violence and Kurdish separatism. Crisis Group aims to promote locally-centred stabilisation and better governance of post-ISIS Iraq in order to reduce the risk of violent flare-ups in liberated areas and mitigate the impact of foreign strategic competition, notably between Iran and the U.S. Through field research, advocacy and engagement with all sides, we urge countries involved in the anti-ISIS campaign to support security sector and institutional reform in Iraq as well. On the Kurdish front, we urge a return to a UN-led process to resolve the question of the disputed territories, especially Kirkuk, and of oil revenue-sharing.

CrisisWatch Iraq

Unchanged Situation

Unrest escalated further in capital Baghdad, where armed clashes between rival Shiite factions killed 30; ruling Kurdish parties quashed protests in Kurdistan. After supporters of populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed parliament in capital Baghdad in late July, thousands of anti-Sadr protestors 1 Aug demonstrated outside Baghdad’s Green Zone. Sadr 3 Aug called for protestors to continue sit-in outside parliament, demanded dissolution of parliament, constitutional amendments and early elections; rival Nuri al-Maliki 8 Aug refused demands. Rival bloc Shiite Coordination Framework 12 Aug began sit-in outside Green Zone, demanding govt formation and resumption of parliament meetings. Sadrist protestors 22-23 Aug gathered outside Supreme Judicial Council in Green Zone after Sadr 10 Aug had called on body to dissolve parliament. Shiite leader Kazem al-Haeri 29 Aug announced retirement and encouraged his own followers to support Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei; in response, Sadr announced retirement, leaving his supporters to demonstrate without guidance. Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) that night fired on Sadrist protesters in Green Zone; Saraya Salam, armed wing of Sadr movement, deployed in response, leading to violent fighting that killed 30 and wounded over 200. Sadr supporters attacked PMF offices across southern provinces. Sadr next day called for calm and supporters’ withdrawal. Deadly clashes night of 31 Aug reportedly spread to southern city Basra. In Kurdistan region, ruling Kurdish parties Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) 6 Aug quashed protests called by leader of New Generation Movement against delayed govt salary payments, rising food prices and unemployment; in PUK-dominated areas, security forces 6 Aug raided houses of political activists and New Generation Movement headquarters, reportedly arresting at least 40 party members. In KDP-dominated areas, security forces in days before 6 Aug arrested activists and journalists. Meanwhile, protests over electricity shortages 6 Aug erupted in southern Basra, Maysan, Wasit and northern Diyala governorates. Unidentified drone strike 1 Aug targeted Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in Ranya district of Sulaymaniyah governorate. Turkish defence ministry 27 Aug said it killed nine PKK militants in north. Low-scale Islamic State (ISIS) attacks continued; notably, suspected ISIS attack 2 Aug killed five soldiers in Diyala governorate.

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In The News

15 Sep 2022
Installing a monarchy that wasn’t very popular and that was overthrown in 1958 was the ignition for the many problems that the modern Iraqi state has faced. AP

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
17 Aug 2022
The reason we haven't seen much talk of the US in Iraq's political process is simply because they don't have much of a role, and they haven't wanted to. Middle East Eye

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
4 Feb 2022
[Iraq is] already part of Saudi-Iran tensions and will forever be a part of them as long as they exist. Al Jazeera

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
7 Oct 2021
[Shiite Muslim cleric] Sadr has been selling himself as a viable option, and a central one in Iraqi politics. Washington Post

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
2 Jun 2021
Successive [Iraqi] governments since the military victory over ISIS have failed to integrate the PMF. It has become a force in itself, pursuing its own interests. Al Jazeera

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
12 Dec 2020
In comparison to previous protests [in Iraq's Kurdish north] these are significant as the current fiscal crisis affects larger swaths of the population. The Washington Post

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq

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Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
Lahib Higel