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CIAO Focus, June 2014: Conflict and Democracy in Iraq

Iraq’s 2014 national elections are taking place at a difficult time. The country is at a crossroads, presented with the possibility of widely different futures. Deteriorating security conditions frame political thought in ways that harken back to Iraq’s first national elections in 2005. The Iraqi state does not hold control of territory in some of Iraq’s key political provinces, such as Anbar, Ninewa, and Diyala. The disenfranchisement of Iraq’s Arab Sunnis; the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS); and the activation of Ba‘athist groups collectively discourage electoral participation.

Shi‘a militias that threatened Iraq’s security in 2004 have reactivated in 2014. Iranian-backed militias such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), the Badr Organization, and parties affiliated with the Sadrist Trend are actively participating in elections as well. The political mobilization of these groups, some in competition with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, demonstrates a retreat from Iraqi Shi‘a political unity; however, it also raises new concerns about public perceptions of the need for protection beyond what the state has been able to provide.

The increasing threat of spillover from the Syrian war and high levels of violence in Iraq have cast doubt on the ability of Iraq’s national elections to generate an outlet of healthy political competition that empowers Iraq’s population to participate.
The Iraqi public is dissatisfied with corruption, deteriorating security, and lack of progress in service delivery. Iraq’s elections can be an opportunity for producing change that can aid in containing the violence instead of following its current trajectory.

--Ahmed Ali, Institute for the Study of War


From the CIAO Database:

Iraq in Crisis

Iraq: Falluja's Faustian Bargain

Sunni-Shia Relations After the Iraq War

Iraq's 2014 National Elections

The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq


Outside Sources: *

Iraqi Elections (New York Times)

Uncertainty as Iraq election results revealed (Al Jazeera)

Election Guide: Republic of Iraq

Iraq Ten Years Later (Middle East & Information Project)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.