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

Türkiye intensified strikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in north after deadly Istanbul bombing, while Iranian forces resumed attacks on Iranian Kurdish groups.

Türkiye targeted PKK and threatened ground incursion. Following 13 Nov bombing in Turkish city Istanbul that killed six, which Türkiye blamed on PKK and Syrian affiliate People’s Protection Units (YPG), Turkish forces 20 Nov launched “Operation Claw-Sword” in northern Syria and Iraq (see Türkiye); Turkish defence ministry claimed strikes in both areas 20-21 Nov killed 184 militants. Turkish President Erdoğan starting 21 Nov repeatedly signalled possible ground invasion into northern Syria and Iraq; threat of ground incursion in northern Syria appeared more likely than Iraq (see Syria). Before new operation, Turkish drone attacks 1, 3 Nov killed at least four PKK-affiliated Sinjar Resistance Unit members in Sinjar district, Ninewa governorate. Militant attacks in north 5 Nov and 25 Nov killed four Turkish soldiers.

Iran resumed strikes on Iranian Kurdish groups in Kurdistan region. Amid ongoing domestic turmoil in Iran that authorities blame on foreign agitation (see Iran), Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) 14, 20-21 and 22 Nov launched missile and drone attacks against Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran (KDPI) in Zargawez area of Sulaymaniyah governorate and Sidakan area of Erbil governorate, reportedly killing at least two; forces also bolstered military presence in Iranian border regions. IRGC Quds Force commander 14 Nov visited capital Baghdad and threatened ground offensive if border was not secured from Kurdish infiltration.

In other important developments. Islamic State (ISIS) continued its insurgency; notably, ISIS 19 Nov attacked army position in Kirkuk governorate, killing four soldiers. Unidentified assailant 7 Nov killed U.S. aid worker in capital Baghdad; PM Sudani same day formed committee to investigate killing. In Kurdistan region, Kurdish Democratic Party 3 Nov held first party congress in 12 years, which appointed Masrour Barzani, son of party leader Masoud Barzani, as second deputy president amid waning influence of his cousin Nechirvan Barzani.

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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

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