Search

Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Phebe Marr
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2006, a new group of Iraqi leaders came to power through elections. In the absence of strong bureaucratic and military institutions, the qualities and skills they bring to bear and their capacity and willingness to cooperate, especially across ethnic and sectarian lines, will determine whether Iraq collapses into chaos or moves forward toward stability. Three characteristics of these leaders are striking. First is how new and inexperienced most of them are. Rapid political mobility and change in ministers was prevalent in previous cabinets, but it has intensified in this government. This degree of change has made it difficult for leaders to acquire experience in national governance, create institutions, establish networks across ministries, and cultivate constituencies outside the central government. Second, the current leadership is still dominated by “outsiders”—exiles who have spent much of their adult life outside Iraq, or by Kurds who have lived in the north, cut off from the rest of Iraq. Most of these exiles have spent time in Middle Eastern, not Western, societies. “Insiders” who lived in Saddam's Iraq and endured its hardships are still a minority. This fault line between insiders and outsiders helps explain some of the lack of cohesion in the government. Third, and most important, many of the current leaders have spent the best part of their adult life engaged in opposition to the Saddam regime, often in underground or militant activities. Those who had any affiliation with, or simply worked under, the old regime have still found it very difficult to gain entry. The result has been a profound distrust between the new leadership and those with some association with the old regime. The continuation of the insurgency has helped this political struggle metamorphose into an ethnic and sectarian war. A fourth parameter is emerging as significant: the development of political parties and groups, often accompanied by militias. While ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq have grabbed most of the headlines, it is these parties and their constituencies that are shaping the political agenda and are likely to be determinative in the future. The most important of these parties now occupy seats, not only in the assembly but in the government. They include the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wah, and the Sadrist movement in the dominant Shi'ah United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Kurdistan Alliance, Tawafuq (Iraqi National Accord) among the Sunnis, and the weaker Iraqiyyah (Iraqi) ticket among the secularists. Each of these parties has different positions on issues and different constituencies to satisfy; in a number of cases these cross ethnic and sectarian divides. Among the most important of these common interests are (a) economic development, (b) oil legislation, (c) management of water resources and the environment, and (d) the role of religion and the state. Even more divisive issues, such as federalism and a timetable for withdrawal of multinational forces, find allies on one or another side of these issues among different ethnic and sectarian groups. This suggests that despite ethnic and sectarian strife, a new political dynamic could be built in Iraq by focusing on one problem at a time and dealing with it by encouraging party, not communal, negotiations. Although such agreements will take time, they may provide a means of gradually building much-needed trust and a network of people and institutions that can work across ethnic and sectarian boundaries. Such a process will have a far better outcome over the long term—an intact, more durable Iraqi state, than the ethnic and sectarian divisions now being pushed by events on the ground and by some outside policy analysts.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Marten Zwanenburg
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights Human Welfare (University of Denver)
  • Abstract: “Because the legal advice was we could do what we wanted to them there” (22). This is how a top-level Pentagon official, in David Rose's Guantánamo: The War on Human Rights explains why detainees held by the United States have been detained at Guantanamo Bay. It is just one illustration of the important role that lawyers have played in the “War on Terror”—a role, along with factors that have or that may have influenced it, that forms the topic of this essay.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: President Bush's request to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 personnel follows on the heels of similar proposals by Congress members of both parties. Despite the bipartisan appeal of this idea, it is not at all clear what problem it is intended to solve or how it is supposed to solve it. Advocates may believe that America's troubles in Iraq provide reason enough to “grow” the Army and Marine Corps. But this view misconstrues both the lessons of that war and America's true security needs.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Stewart Patrick, Kaysie Brown
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Bush administration has increasingly acknowledged that weak and failing states represent the core of today's global development challenge. It has also recognized that such states are potential threats to international peace and security. But despite the rhetoric, it has yet to formulate a coherent strategy around fragile states or commit adequate resources towards engaging them. Excluding funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and HIV/AIDS, the administration's FY07 budget request proposes to spend just $1.1 billion in direct bilateral assistance to fragile states—little more than a dollar per person per year. In this new working paper, CGD research fellow Stewart Patrick and program associate Kaysie Brown urge U.S. policymakers to consider increasing aid to fragile states and to think creatively about how and when to engage these troubled countries. The authors also call for the policy community to integrate non-aid instruments into a more coherent government strategy. To put its money where its mouth is, the U.S. should treat aid to weak and failing states as a form of venture capital, with high risk but potentially high rewards.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq
  • Author: Nathan Converse, Ethan Kapstein
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Since the “third wave” of democratization began in 1974, nearly 100 states have adopted democratic forms of government, including, of course, most of the former Soviet bloc nations. Policy-makers in the west have expressed the hope that this democratic wave will extend even further, to the Middle East and onward to China. But the durability of this new democratic age remains an open question. By some accounts, at least half of the world's young democracies—often referred to in the academic literature as being “unconsolidated” or “fragile”—are still struggling to develop their political institutions, and several have reverted back to authoritarian rule. Among the countries in the early stages of democratic institution building are states vital to U.S. national security interests, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, China, Iraq
  • Author: Jonathan Morrow
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The cycle of violence in Iraq is, in part, constitutional: it derives from competing visions of the Iraqi state that have not been reconciled. An amendment to Iraq's constitution to delay the creation of new federal regions, together with a package of legislation and intergovernmental agreements on oil, division of governmental power between Baghdad and the regions, and the judiciary, may be enough to slow or even arrest this decline in the security situation, and may be achievable. A “government of national unity,” though desirable, will not by itself be able to generate the necessary constitutional consensus. Iraq's new legislature, the Council of Representatives, is now considering the process of constitutional amendment described in Article 142 of the constitution. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced the constitutional review as part of his government's platform. This amendment process, assuming it proceeds, will come in the wake of widespread opposition to the constitution from Sunni Arab Iraqis in the October 2005 referendum. It is expected that a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) will soon be appointed, in line with Article 142. To the extent that it was opposed by Sunni Arabs, the constitution lacks the essential criterion of any constitution: the consent of all major national communities. The 2005 Iraqi constitution may nonetheless, as a legal text, be a sufficient and necessary framework for the radically regionalized Iraqi polity which the constitution drafters envisaged. The constitutional challenge in Iraq is first about peacemaking, not state building. As the Iraqi parliament faces the challenge of appointing, mandating and staffing a CRC, the first, and essential, set of questions is therefore political: How can the amendment process be used as a vehicle to remedy the political failure of last year's constitution drafting process? How can consensus be built, and in particular how can Iraq's Sunni Arabs be encouraged to give their assent to the new federal Iraq? How can Iraq's Kurdish and Shia leaders be encouraged to make worthwhile constitutional concessions to Sunni Arab positions so as to elicit that consent? The second set of questions is legal: What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that Iraq is a viable, if not a strong, state? To the extent that the Sunni Arab position has been one that purports to defend the Iraqi state, legal or technical improvements to the text that support Baghdad's ability to govern may draw support from Sunni Arabs, thereby generating clear political benefits. There are additional legal questions that, though not strictly related to the Sunni Arab problem, are pressing: in particular, What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that the human rights of all Iraqis receive adequate protection? It is not only the Sunni Arabs who feel disenfranchised by the constitution; nationalists, some women's groups, and groups representing Iraq's minorities express similar views. It will be very difficult to pass constitutional amendments of any sort, especially those that seek to shift power from Iraq's regions to the central government. Regional interests have the upper hand, constitutionally and politically. There is no reason to expect that the constitution's Kurdish and Shia authors will see the need for constitutional amendments to the text that they themselves deliberately, if hastily, constructed. The referendum procedure for amendment is onerous, with a three-governorate veto power. High expectations of the amendment procedure will lead to disappointment and may amplify, rather than reduce, violence. For this reason, legal instruments other than constitutional amendments must be considered as ways to remedy the political and legal deficiencies of the constitution. A CRC should be established, with strong Sunni Arab membership. Given the pressing and complex nature of the necessary constitutional deal, the CRC should be mandated to make recommendations, where appropriate, not only for constitutional amendments, but also for (1) legislation, (2) intergovernmental agreements and, where appropriate (3) interparty agreements and (4) international agreements, all of which might encourage Sunni Arab political commitment to the Iraqi constitution and ensure viability for the Iraqi state. A three-part formula, concerning the creation of new regions, oil, and the delineation of powers between the central government and the regions, offers a way forward for the CRC to heal the wounds caused by the deficiencies in the 2005 drafting process. That formula would not require the Kurdistan party or the hitherto most influential Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to make major modifications to their constitutional positions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: David L. Phillips
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Iraq's elections on January 30, 2005, were a watershed in the country's history. Still, democracy involves much more than voting. It is about the distribution of political power through institutions and laws that guarantee accountable rule. The real fight for power will be over Iraq's permanent constitution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: From Saudi Arabia's establishment in 1932, its minority Shiite population has been subject to discrimination and sectarian incitement. Beginning in the early 1990s, with then Crown Prince Abdullah's active support, the government took steps to improve inter-sectarian relations. But the measures were modest, and tensions are rising. The war in Iraq has had a notable effect, strengthening Shiite aspirations and Sunni suspicions and generally deepening confessional divisions throughout the region. King Abdullah needs to act resolutely to improve the lot of the two-million strong Shiite community and rein in domestic expressions of anti-Shiite hostility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The surprise election of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, who is being sworn in as president this week, has given rise to dire predictions about Iran's domestic and foreign policies and relations with the U.S. and the European Union. There are reasons for concern. Based on his rhetoric, past performance, and the company he keeps, Ahmadi-Nejad appears a throwback to the revolution's early days: more ideological, less pragmatic, and anti- American. But for the West, and the U.S. in particular, to reach and act upon hasty conclusions would be wrong. Iran is governed by complex institutions and competing power centres that inherently favour continuity over change. More importantly , none of the fundamentals has changed: the regime is not about to collapse; it holds pivotal cards on Iraq and nuclear proliferation; and any chance of modifying its behaviour will come, if at all, through serious, coordinated EU and U.S. efforts to engage it.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The next stage in Iraq's political transition, the drafting and adoption of a permanent constitution, will be critical to the country's long-term stability. Iraqis face a dilemma: rush the constitutional process and meet the current deadline of 15 August 2005 to prevent the insurgents from scoring further political points, or encourage a process that is inclusive, transparent and participatory in an effort to increase popular buy-in of the final product. While there are downsides to delay, they are far outweighed by the dangers of a hurried job that could lead to either popular rejection of or popular resignation to a text toward which they feel little sense of ownership or pride.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East