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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

Ahead of parliamentary and governorate elections 12 May, campaigning officially began 15 April. Test of newly introduced electronic voting system 18 April reportedly exposed faults. Islamic State (ISIS) continued to launch attacks, especially against officials, in Diyala province in east, Kirkuk province in north and Nineveh province in north west; security source 14 April said roadside bomb in Diyala province killed local judge. Military 9 April reportedly killed prominent ISIS leader Abu Walid al-Checheni in Diyala province. Air force 19 April reportedly carried out strikes against ISIS base near Hajin in Syria with Syrian govt approval. Unclaimed suicide attack 8 April at political party headquarters in Anbar province in west killed four. Ambush on military convoy in Saladin province in north 11 April left five fighters of govt-aligned Shiite Popular Mobilisation Units dead; unclaimed bombing at their funeral 12 April killed sixteen. In far north, Turkey continued operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in early April: PKK forces claimed to have killed five Turkish soldiers 17 April and seven more 19 April, all in Barzan, northern Iraq.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

15 May 2018
If the group that is most adamantly in favour of combating corruption [in Iraq] is incapable or unwilling to do anything about it, frustrations could take a different turn. Financial Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
18 Feb 2018
The [Iraqi] government budget will form the bulk of [the World Bank] money, followed by private investment. Donors are seen as an added boost, not the bulk. The Arab Weekly

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Arabian Peninsula
15 Feb 2018
[The international conference in Kuwait on Iraq's reconstruction] is a signal to [Prime Minister] Abadi going into elections. This gives him something tangible to take back to Baghdad. Foreign Policy

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Arabian Peninsula
7 Nov 2017
Tensions [within Kurdish political parties] are likely to endure, unless the Masoud/Masrour Barzani line relaxes its control and allows its rivals to fully participate in decision-making. Middle East Eye

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
26 Oct 2017
For the Sunnis, there's a lack of political cohesion about exactly what they want. [Iraq's] Abadi government has never needed the Sunnis more than now. The New York Times

Maria Fantappie

Former Senior Analyst, Iraq
23 Oct 2017
In 2008-09, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) carried out an extensive study on what it called Iraq’s ‘Disputed Internal Bounda­ries’ (DIBs) and proposed specific ways forward to settle the question of the Kurdish region’s boundary and the disposition of the income derived from the sale of oil and gas located there. Middle East Online

Maria Fantappie

Former Senior Analyst, Iraq

Latest Updates

The Iraqi Elections: A Way Out of the Morass?

The results of Iraq’s 12 May parliamentary contests are not yet final, but the broad contours are apparent. Efforts to fashion a coalition government will likely involve lengthy bargaining. Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann offers a preliminary analysis.

Iraq’s Pre-election Turmoil

Given Iraq’s history of election-season instability, the upcoming presidential election could deepen existing tensions rather than unify the country. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group proposes several actions for the EU and its member states to work toward overcoming intra-Iraqi challenges.

Twilight of the Kurds

Kurdish officials once dreamed of forging their own state out of the ashes of the war against the Islamic State. Now they are fighting for their very survival.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Also available in العربية

An Accounting for the Uncounted

The human cost of the war on ISIS has become too easy for Americans to ignore.

Originally published in The Atlantic

The Kurds Are Right Back Where They Started

For decades, Washington has been content to indulge Kurdish dreams of independence. Why was Erbil willing to play along?

Originally published in The Atlantic

Also available in العربية

Our People

Maria Fantappie

Former Senior Analyst, Iraq