Search

You searched for: Content Type Special Report Remove constraint Content Type: Special Report Publishing Institution Foreign Policy Research Institute Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute Topic Politics Remove constraint Topic: Politics
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Benedict Robin-D'Cruz, Renad Mansour
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Iraq’s Sadrist movement, led by populist Shi’i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been at the heart of Iraqi politics since 2003. The movement’s political strategies have shifted dramatically during this time, encompassing militant insurgency, sectarian violence, electoral politics, and reform-oriented street protests. Consequently, despite their prominence, the Sadrists’ shifting positions mean they remain one of the most complex and frequently misunderstood movements in Iraq. This is further compounded by the near-total absence of engagement between the Sadrists and Western, particularly American, governments. As Sadr has changed his movement’s politics again, this time toward a counter-protest stance, U.S. policymakers are once more grappling with the dilemmas posed by a movement that is both powerful and obscure.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Non State Actors, Muqtada al-Sadr
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Kirk H. Sowell
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The year 2014 was a horrible one for Iraq. The national election held in April was preceded by two ominous trends: an increasingly strong, armed insurgency from the Sunni Arab population and an increasingly sharp sectarian conflict within the mainstream political system, driven by actions of both the Shia Islamist-dominated government and Sunni Arab political leaders. A divisive election with a disputed result was followed by a strong insurgency, and while both pan-Arab and Iraqi Sunni media tended to frame it as a “revolution” driven by oppressed Sunni tribesmen, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), a brutal terrorist group with a globalist Salafi-Jihadist ideology, was its primary driver. The crucible event of the year was the fall of Mosul, Iraq’s most populous Sunni-majority city in the northwest province of Nineveh, to ISIS jihadists on June 10. The city did not fall without resistance, as is sometimes said, as federal police units fought a four-day gun battle for the city, while army divisions, including two garrisoned right outside the city, watched on. Once resistance in the city collapsed, several Iraqi army divisions, weakened by sectarian divisions and riddled with corruption, collapsed almost overnight, and terrorists overran much of northern and western Iraq. These events were a watershed for Iraq, and especially for its Sunni Arab population, and it is Sunni Arab politics since 2014 which is the focus of this chapter.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Sectarianism, Elections, Sunni, Shia
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Stein
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Republic of Iraq has faced considerable challenges after the American-led invasion in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, ranging from insurgency to endemic corruption and poor government services. Baghdad has emerged as the epicenter of a broader geopolitical struggle between the United States and Islamic Republic of Iran, two hostile adversaries at odds since the Islamic Revolution toppled the American-friendly Shah in 1979. Amidst these broader challenges, Iraq faced an existential security threat in 2014, after the Islamic State gained strength in Syria, augmented its ranks with foreign fighters, and took control over eastern Syria and parts of western Iraq, including the Iraqi city of Mosul, the country’s second largest city. The war to defeat this group was brutal and fraught, with the Iraqi military bearing the brunt of the casualties fighting for control over densely populated urban areas and vast expanses of desert terrain. The fighting consumed Iraqi affairs for years, blunted the sharp tensions that underpin U.S.-Iran relations, and focused military efforts on the defeat of a common enemy. In the year since the defeat of the Islamic State, the American role in Iraq has become less clear. The United States has undertaken an aggressive policy, dubbed “Maximum Pressure,” to economically coerce the Iranian government to make a series of concessions, including limits on the development of ballistic missiles and foreign policy changes. This effort included the American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multi-national agreement that placed considerable limits on Iran’s nuclear program and instituted an expansive inspection regime to verify the terms of the deal in exchange for Iran receiving American and European sanctions relief. The Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions severely complicated the arrangement, depriving Iran of the reward for its compliance and setting in motion a series of Iranian steps to try to coerce Europe to continue to uphold trade with the Islamic Republic. The United States, however, has threatened to sanction European entities should they not comply with American policy. The tensions over sanctions have had a deleterious effect on stability in Iraq and the Middle East, more broadly. The Iranian government has gradually increased its efforts to impose a cost on the United States for using sanctions to end its export of oil, beginning with a series of attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, escalating to include missile strikes on important oil centers in Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais, and then a shooting down an American surveillance drone. In response to rocket attacks inside Iraq, the United States has struck Iraqi militia’s linked to Iran and, in January 2020, assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani, the now-deceased leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iranian-linked actor that oversaw Iraqi militias sympathetic to the Islamic Republic. In retaliation, the Iranian military fired a salvo of ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq, striking targets with precision, but luckily resulting in no American deaths. The strikes still resulted in over one hundred cases of traumatic brain injury in the soldiers at the targeted bases. The tit-for-tat underscores Iran’s appetite for risk, particularly at time when its economy is under siege from U.S. actions.
  • Topic: Politics, Insurgency, Sectarianism, Islamic State, Sunni, Transition, Muqtada al-Sadr, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan