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Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights

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Congressional rept.

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More than two years after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, sectarian divisions and the Sunni-led uprising in neighboring Syria have fueled a revival of radical Islamist Sunni Muslim insurgent groups that are attempting to undermine Iraqs stability. Iraqs Sunni Arab Muslims resent the Shiite political domination and perceived discrimination by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Iraqs Kurds are embroiled in separate political disputes with the Baghdad government over territorial, political, and economic issues. The rifts caused a significant uprising led by the Sunni insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq, now also known by the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL, that began December 26, 2013 and gained control of several cities in Anbar Province. Earlier, unrest delayed some provincial elections during April-June 2013 and the latest uprising could affect the legitimacy of national elections for a new parliament and government set for April 30, 2014. Maliki is widely expected to seek to retain his post after that vote. The latest violence has exposed weaknesses in the Iraqi Security Forces ISF in the absence of direct U.S. military involvement in Iraq. To date, the 800,000-person ISF has countered the escalating violence by itself, but the violence killed nearly 9,000 Iraqis in 2013 -- more than double the figure for all of 2012. Informal security structures put in place during the U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2003-2011 have fractured or faltered in the late 2013-early 2014 ISIL challenge. And there are a growing number of reports that some Shiite militias have reactivated to retaliate for violence against Shiites. The Administration and Congress continue to cultivate Iraq as an ally in part to preserve the legacy of the U.S intervention and to prevent Iraq from falling under the sway of Iran.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Unconventional Warfare

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