The stage that followed the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force (QF), the arm of its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) early 2020 has shown a state of defect in the strategy of QF in Iraq. The notable feature of this defect was the failure of the new commander of QF Esmail Ghaani to fill the vacuum left by Soleimani’s absence. Moreover, new Iranian actors – who did not have strong presence during Soleimani’s era - have entered the Iraqi scene. In addition, the rise of other factors related to Iraqi Shiite actors has also complicated the strategy of QF in Iraq.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's initiative for national dialogue, which he launched on 8 March 2021, came as an attempt to benefit from the positive atmosphere left in the country by the visit of the Pope of the Vatican, and to pave the ground for the general elections scheduled for October 2021. However, the initiative raised a clear difference in the reactions of the various Iraqi actors.
February 2021 witnessed further military and verbal escalation regarding the situation in Sinjar near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted at the possibility that Turkish forces might launch a large-scale attack on the district that is administratively associated with Nineveh Governorate in order to eradicate the operatives of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who Ankara claims are heavily present in that region and move continuously across the Iraqi-Syrian border, in cooperation with their allies from the Kurdish and Yazidi factions in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had visited Baghdad on 18 January 2021, accompanied by the Turkish Army Chief of Staff General Yasar Guler, to pressure the Iraqi government to activate its efforts to expel the PKK fighters from Sinjar, expressing Ankara's readiness to support the governments of Baghdad and Erbil to implement the agreement they had reached on 9 October 2020 to normalise the situation in Sinjar and drive the PKK out of the region.
On the recommendation of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Iraqi government decided to postpone the early parliamentary elections that were scheduled to be held from June to October 2021, which deepened doubts about the seriousness of the new date, especially in the light of the procrastination by the ruling parties in meeting the legal requirements to conduct this extraordinary election. This paper sheds light on the background of the postponement decision, the calculations of the political forces, and the scenarios for the future of the elections.
The Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI) faces a real challenge in preserving the existential benefits that it gained after the fall of the regime of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in April 2003, whereby the KRI became one of the poles of the ruling political system in Iraq. This time, the problems of the KRI are not a dispute with the central government in Baghdad as before, but rather a dispute between the two partners of the ruling regime in Kurdistan, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by the family of the late President Jalal Talabani. This paper discusses the causes of the real dispute between the two parties and whether an administrative division is possible in the KRI authority.
The former Iraqi Prime Minister and leader of the State of Law Coalition Nouri al-Maliki is seeking to promote himself to head the next government that will be formed following the early elections that are scheduled for October 2021. During the past days, his coalition and other loyal parties began organising a media campaign to polish Maliki's image and launch an early election campaign that sparked various reactions in popular and political circles. This paper attempts to read Maliki's electoral chances, and trace his campaign and its impact on the Shiite alliance.
Iraq today finds itself at a crossroads, beset by challenges and life-and-death decisions. The public protests that erupted in early October 2019 revealed a number of deep structural crises in the country, growing public resentment vis-à-vis the political elite, and an expanding rift between these political forces and the Iraqi street. They have ignited a conflict that has opened the door to all manner of possible future scenarios for the nation.
Following the defeat of ISIS in late 2017, Iraq has entered a new era. A number of key internal and external factors will determine Iraq’s future in this new epoch and will have a significant bearing on the security and stability of the entire region.
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