Can Iraq avoid a Civil War?

Posted in Iraq | 05-Feb-14 | Author: Corneliu Pivariu,

Eleven years after the American invasion in Iraq, the country faces numerous crises that have augmented in time due to the lack of adequate measures for the problems related to the Americans’ mistakes during and after the invasion, the sectarian conflicts between the Shiites and the Sunnis, the extremist movements of each group and the ethnical separation between the Arabs and the Kurds. We also need to mention in this context, Iran’s influence and the isolation of the country from numerous Arab states. 

The developments at the end of 2013 and in January 2014 culminated when the central authority lost (January 4) the city of Fallujah situated approximately 70 km west of Baghdad, a city almost entirely destroyed after the 2003 invasion. The city is now supposedly controlled not only by the self-entitled group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL – or Dawla Islamyia in Arabic), but also by other tribal anti-governmental Sunni militias. 

We also need to mention the failure of the current political and governmental system. The Shiite rulers can repress the opposition for a while, but only a real government of national unity can provide the necessary framework for all the factions to have equal chances to power and wealth in order to avoid a civil war that is currently not very far from breaking out. Syria should serve as a very lucid example for the current leadership in Baghdad.

We also note that Iraq, whose economy is far too dependable on its oil industry, deals with a crisis in agriculture, an inadequate infrastructure, problematic education and health systems, increasing corruption and artificially overcrowded state institutions characterized by a specific Arab bureaucracy and political obedience. 

In our opinion, the US is very unlikely to send troops to Iraq again. This would probably be the most uninspired step and it would press the buttons of the current opposition. Maliki’s unconditional support, the isolation of the opposition and the use of the security forces for the repression of the opposition would speed up the debut of the civil war. After the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister in Washington in November 2013, the U.S. confirmed that it would continue supporting the Iraqi security forces, one of the very few levers available for the White House to counteract the Iranian influence in Baghdad.

Consequently, Iraq can only get on if it implements the necessary measures to eliminate the imminence of a civil war, requiring political leaders to give up their limited political options imposed by the ethnic group, the sect or the group to which they belong. The external factors, in their current status, do not support such a development. Therefore, considering the developments in the last decade and the current situation, there are two possible developments on the short and medium term in Iraq: a civil war or extended repression. 

Source: Geostrategic Pulse